When I was a junior in college, I took a very humanitarian Spring Break road trip to Arkansas to help clean up after an F5 tornado destroyed a small town. The sister of a friend of mine lived nearby, so we stayed with her and her husband during our time there, and she introduced me to two delicious dishes. The first was queso dip. I'd had queso dip from a jar before, and loved it, but Rebecca made queso with Velveeta and this fantastic stuff called Ro*Tel. I won't post a recipe for that one; chances are, a)you already know how to make it, and b) even if you don't, you probably gleaned enough from the list of ingredients to surmise how to make it.
The second dish was a chili-like concoction called Taco Soup. Spicy, tangy, and hearty, it was Tex-Mex heaven in a bowl, and I was instantly smitten. Believe it or not, I am an introvert, and because of that, I did not ask her for the recipe for this soul-satisfying soup. But I was able, some time later, to hone its ingredients to achieve the flavor I fell in love with at Bill and Rebecca's house. My recipe has become a trifle more sophisticated over the years, but it is still the smoky, spicy soup I met in Arkansas those many years ago. That, and it couldn't be easier! I'm sure you've seen recipes for this before; here's mine.
1 lb. ground beef
1 small sweet onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. water or beef broth
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 16-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can yellow hominy, undrained
1 can beans (your choice--I like dark red kidney beans or black beans), undrained
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. taco seasoning
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 bay leaf
In a dutch oven, brown ground beef, and drain. (Make sure beef is browned and not merely gray; color=flavor!) Add in onions and saute over medium heat until onions are translucent. (Beef will continue to brown. GOOD!) Add in garlic, and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Deglaze the pan with water or broth, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom. Add in oregano, cumin, taco seasoning, and cayenne, stirring well to combine. Then add the tomatoes, hominy, and beans. Stir to combine. Toss the bay leaf into the mixture, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Serve over rice, topped with cheese, and sprinkled liberally with fritos.