HALLOWEEN, FOR ME, didn’t used to be about bags of candy. My mom would make popcorn balls of all different hues, wrapping them around tootsie pops to hand out to trick or treaters. Since there wasn’t a stranger in the small Alaska town where I grew up, no one had a problem with this. The children came, they trick-or-treated and they ate because we didn’t worry about tainted candy back then.
My husband fondly remembers one of his teachers setting up a propane stove in his front yard every Halloween. On it was a huge pot of simmering soup. Instead of candy, he’d hand out bowls of his hot soup to trick-or-treaters. That sounds like my kind of treat!
Now, I love my peanut butter cups just as much, if not more, than the next person and I know my kids love to sort their candy and eat it (3 per day is our limit). I even have them trained to save a few of those peanut butter treats for me! BUT, I have seen healthier alternatives. Some of the edible ones include; bags of pre-packaged pretzels, small bags of microwave popcorn, trail mix, granola bars, juice boxes, and cheese sticks. My children have also had some non-edibles end up in their treat bags: toothbrushes (I think that was from a dentist) and Halloween pencils. One person I saw even gave out quarters to trick-or-treaters!
So, here’s my family’s favorite soup. We like it any time of year, for any occasion. I even made a batch this week for the teachers at my kids school. The pot came back empty. I may set up on the porch to serve it to trick or treaters, but really this is a great, slow-cooked meal that can be kept warm for when you come back in from the cold after an evening of collecting candy.
CROCKPOT TACO SOUP
Yield: about 15 generous portions. Leftovers freeze well.
(I changed the original recipe which included packets of taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix. Being salt sensitive, I found the sodium content too high. Not to mention all those ingredients I can’t pronounce. I came up with my own “seasoning mix”, but if you’re in a pinch, feel free to substitute the taco seasoning and ranch dressing mixes.)
Brown the beef and sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat until all the pink is gone. When the meat starts to render some fat, add the onions and cook with the meat until soft. Drain fat by tipping the skillet and scooping out the fat that accumulates.
Transfer to a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker, and add the remaining ingredients.
Stir and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
Serve with optional toppings if desired: shredded cheese, green onions, sliced olives, sour cream.
Dine with your trick-or-treaters!