This high protein taco soup is a cool weather favorite and one of the most popular recipes on my blog. It’s perfect for meal prep and super easy to make in bulk with minimal time and effort. Every serving has 18 grams of protein, only 210 calories, and tons of a super filling veggies.
Like any dump soup, you can add just about anything you want with minimal impact on flavor. If you don’t love veggies or have a picky eater in the house, this could be a great way to mask cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, onions and peppers, or other vegetables you can finely chop.
How to Make High Protein Taco Soup
Whip out your largest stock pot and let’s get cooking. I’ll walk you through the recipe and add a few bonus prep tips and ingredient substitution notes along the way.
Browning and Cooking the Meat
The recipe calls for 96% lean ground beef I use for nearly all my ground beef recipes, but you could also use ground turkey or chicken. I prefer the latter and have used 97% lean ground chicken to make recipes like Tex-Mex white bean ground chicken soup and buffalo ground chicken chili. Can’t find ground chicken? You can make your own from chicken breast with a food processor, knife, or meat grinder.
Whatever meat you end up using, make sure to get some browning via the Maillard reaction. There’s lots of flavor to be missed by not browning.
Tips for successfully browning ground meat:
- Make sure the pot or pan is HOT before adding the protein. The Maillard reaction occurs at higher temperatures, and the meat will cool the pot once it goes in. A hot pan (cast iron helps due to its heat retention properties) ensures you get browning and not boiled meat.
- Pat the ground meat dry with a paper towel before going in the pot. Moisture prevents browning.
- Gently press the meat down to create surface area then leave it untouched for at least 3-4 minutes.
- Don’t crowd the pot or pan. You can brown in batches if you’re having trouble getting adequate browning.
The Canned Components
You’ll need a can of pinto beans, black beans, whole kernel corn, stewed tomatoes, and RO-TEL or diced tomatoes with green chiles. Everything goes in the soup undrained, both for nutrition info accuracy and a flavorful cooking liquid.
If you’d like to switch up the beans, use exclusively diced or stewed tomatoes, or omit the corn, that’s perfectly fine. You really can’t mess up when it comes to make this high protein soup. If you’ve seen my Instant Pot stuffed pepper soup recipe, the fire roasted corn and tomatoes would be great additions here.
Taco Soup Seasoning
Taco seasoning and ranch dip mix or seasoning. That’s it. If you wanted to reduce the sodium, you could make your own seasoning blends. My baked beef tacos have a good seasoning blend you could double and combine with homemade ranch seasoning. There’s even some ingredient overlap.
I mentioned it above, but this recipe is extremely customizable. Since nearly all of us need to eat more vegetables, I like to add plenty of onions, peppers, cauliflower, and even broccoli. That may sound crazy, but you’ll never know you’re eating broccoli. For a lower profile veggie, check out my slow cooker chicken taco soup and taco chili recipes, which use frozen chopped spinach that’s super hidden.
Just think about all the added nutrients and volume!
If you’d rather use fresh, that’s perfectly fine. Either way, you’ll want to add everything and simmer until the veggies are tender.
I will mention, however, the frozen vegetables will release quite a bit of water once they’re in the soup. If you’re using fresh and notice your taco soup is too thick, you can add a little water or broth.
For a little flavor bonus, add some bay leaves and fresh herbs like in my ground beef vegetable soup recipe and remove before serving.
Make it Creamy
Once the veggies are tender and everything has simmered together, it’s time to incorporate the creamy components. Be sure you’ve turned the heat to low or removed from the heat entirely.
The recipe calls for fat free cream cheese, but reduced fat works fine. And since it’s a massive batch of food, you don’t notice the nutrition facts difference per serving as much as you’d think. You can also use reduced fat sour cream in place of fat free Greek yogurt if you’d like. They both add that tanginess we’re after to balance the saltiness of the soup.
2023 Update: Blended low fat cottage cheese is all the rage right now, and I’ve used it to make protein queso and protein macaroni and cheese with great success. Just pop it in a food processor or hit it with a stick blender and reap the benefits!
If you’d rather make your high protein taco soup without the creamy components, you could add 2-4 cups of broth or water when adding the canned vegetables in step 2.
How to Serve this High Protein Soup
You can portion this out to fit your meal timing schedule and/or calorie needs. I’ve portioned the recipe into 12 servings that are about one and half cups each. If you wanted larger or smaller, simply multiply the nutrition facts per serving by 12 to get the total nutrition facts for the recipe.
Healthy Taco Soup Toppings
- Fat Free Greek Yogurt or Reduced Fat Sour Cream
- Baked Tostitos Scoops or Low Calorie Tortilla Chips
- Diced or Sliced Avocado
- Shredded Cheese or Queso Fresco
- Salsa, Hot Sauce, Fresh Pico, Cilantro, or Diced Jalapeño
Okay, that’s it for recipe notes. When you try this high protein taco soup and love it, I would love to hear about it. Let me know in a recipe review or comment at the bottom of this post.
And if you’re active on Pinterest, I’d appreciate you pinning this recipe. Thanks in advance and thanks for reading and enjoy your high protein taco soup!
- 2 pounds Ground Beef (96/4)
- 15 oz can Sliced Stewed Tomatoes
- 10 oz can RO-TEL (diced tomatoes with green chiles)
- 15 oz can Black Beans*
- 15 oz can Pinto Beans*
- 15 oz can Whole Kernel Corn*
- 2 packets Taco Seasoning
- 1 packet Ranch Dip Mix
- 12 oz bag Frozen Pepper & Onion Blend
- 12 oz bag Frozen Broccoli & Cauliflower Florets
- 8 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese, room temp
- 1 cup (227g) Fat Free Greek Yogurt
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef before breaking apart and fully cooking.
- Once the meat is fully cooked, add all the canned ingredients and seasoning packets. Stir to fully combine and bring to a boil.
- Add the frozen vegetables and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 6-8 minutes. (The soup will be thick but the vegetables will release water as they cook.)
- Reduce the heat to low or turn off the heat if you're planning to serve immediately. Add the cream cheese and Greek yogurt and stir until evenly incorporated.
- Serve with cilantro, diced onion and jalapeño, shredded cheese or queso fresco, and tortilla chips, if desired.
*Undrained. If you want to drain, you may need to add water or broth.
You can use any combination of frozen vegetables or even fresh vegetables.
You can use dairy free cream cheese and yogurt or swap the creamy components altogether with an additional 2-4 cups of water or broth.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Servings Serving Size: 1 1/2 cup (about 12 oz)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260Total Fat: 4gCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 6gProtein: 24g