This taco soup, made almost completely from cans, has been one of our dinner staples. It brings back happy memories of when my big sister taught me to make this easy, quick, and inexpensive dinner in college. We were thrilled to discover that it’s also completely gluten free. Canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, black beans, kidney beans, and corn. Taco seasoning (what luck that ours was gluten free!). Salsa. One large pot, one can opener, ten minutes, and a lot of delicious smells. This is the recipe that I can make with a baby on my hip and have dinner ready on time!
Question: what do you do when it’s 4 pm, you’ve got guests coming for dinner, and you just found out you have celiac disease and can’t eat gluten? (True story—I, Heidi, found out about my diagnosis exactly 2 hours before we were supposed to serve dinner.)
Answer: 10 Minute Gluten-Free Taco Soup to the rescue!
Let’s be totally honest here. I didn’t have a clue about cross-contamination that first night. I learned so much in the days and weeks and months that followed. I did read through each product’s ingredient list and identified that none of them listed wheat, rye, barley, or gluten in the ingredients or allergen warnings. I still have no idea whether anything I ate that night was contaminated by a stray crumb on the kitchen counter or shared production equipment. Contaminated or not, the next morning, I woke up and realized that I had no stomach pain. I’d actually forgotten what feeling well felt like.
We still love eating this taco soup, and now we know a little bit more about how to choose brands for our ingredients. I hope our tips are helpful to you! Even if you’re brand new to gluten free and are confused about which brands are safe—perhaps you just got off the phone with your doctor and are digging through the pantry trying to pull together a gluten-free dinner—this will be a huge step in the right direction.
So whip out your handy dandy can opener, and let’s get started!
I decided to time myself making this recipe (just me, no little helpers this time). Zero prep beforehand. I just started the stopwatch and then put out the pot, gathered the ingredients from the pantry and fridge, started opening cans, dumped in the ingredients, turned on the heat, stirred. When it started getting warm and bubbly, I checked the stopwatch. 7 minutes 19 seconds. I did a taste test and stopped the timer at 8 minutes 10 seconds, so when I say this is a ten-minute meal, I mean it. If your stove is slow heating up or if you’ve got small helpers (because this is an ideal meal for small helpers), give yourself 15–20 minutes and enjoy the process!
If you want to skip to the recipe proper, scroll down. Otherwise, here are our ingredient tips to keep this 100% celiac safe:
Diced Tomatoes: We have been very happy with Wegmans canned tomato products—check out that fantastic allergen labeling! Most brands of diced tomatoes should be naturally gluten free, but if you have celiac or are sensitive to contamination, it’s good to be aware of processing. Cans without added seasonings are more likely to be safe.
Tomato Sauce: We have also been very happy with Tuttorosso canned tomato products—again, good labeling here. I often buy the large cans of tomato sauce (so in this recipe, I used half of this can and stuck the rest in the freezer for next time).
Black Beans: We used the Wegmans store brand for our beans as well (the beans, and corn below, also have allergen labels). I have also heard that Goya blue line beans are gluten free. I don’t have an original source on this one yet, but I haven’t ever gotten sick after eating Goya canned beans. I gave up on buying the store brand at our local ShopRite, since I learned after a phone call that I would need to provide information by phone from each individual can I purchased (this after waiting on the line for 20 minutes) and then wait for a response after they checked the production facility for each can. I can’t afford to spend my life reading bean labels over the phone; we’d never get dinner on the table!
Kidney Beans: Same story here. Sub in pink, pinto, or red beans if you’d like. We love them all in this soup!
Canned Corn: Wegmans has been a great choice for us here too. I expect that most canned and frozen corn is pretty safe, as long as no seasonings are added, but it never hurts to be sure.
Salsa: Be careful in choosing your salsa, since some may actually contain gluten ingredients or, more likely, be processed in a facility with gluten. We have absolutely fallen in love with this Organic Jacks Cantina Style Salsa (we buy it at our Costco). We’ve also found Pace salsa with a gluten-free label, and Wegmans has several gluten-free salsa choices. So far, we haven’t found a bad match for this soup.
Taco Seasoning: Pay attention to this one, since it’s a blend of several different seasonings. McCormick has a new gluten-free taco seasoning blend, which we haven’t tried yet. Taco seasoning often includes whey (milk), so right now we’re making homemade taco seasoning. For the single ingredient spices, McCormick or Kirkland Signature brand are safe choices. For the chili power, we often use Badia chili powder, which is certified gluten free.
Here are a few cooking tips: You can turn on the stove once you put your first ingredients in the pot. I like to add the diced tomatoes or tomato sauce first and let that start warming while I open the others cans, since rinsing the beans is a little slower. I do crank it all the way to high, and I haven’t burned it yet! Feel free to use a lower heat setting though. Also, using a pot with a wide base on a wider element will help the soup warm up more quickly, if that’s your goal. I use my wide, but shallow, 4-quart pot for a single recipe. If you choose to add a meat, double the recipe, or use frozen ingredients, that will definitely increase the warming time. We’re just being realistic here. 🙂
Serve warm—not that you could wait for it to cool. We love to scoop it up with tortilla chips, and when we’re eating dairy (so not right now), we like to absolutely bury it in shredded cheese and sour cream. It’s also fantastic topped with avocado slices or fresh cilantro. Sometimes, we serve it over a bed of rice to mix things up.
I hope you’re ready to dig in, because we are!
See this Taco Soup recipe and other gluten-free recipes on Gluten-Free Thursday on Life After Wheat.