A fiesta of flavors, this Creamy Taco Soup is so easy to make! It’s naturally gluten-free and you’ll find my dairy-free options below as well. This soup comes together with a few minutes of prep work, then it simmers away on the stove while you prep any toppings you’d like. In 30 minutes or less it’s time for dinner, and if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers they reheat well too.
This recipe is the all-American-style taco flavors we’ve come to love in a creamy soup, and it’s perfect for family dinners. This soup is a true crowd-pleaser, and you’ll find all my dietary substitutions below as well.
The inspiration for this recipe was by popular request, and so here it is! We love making this recipe for dinner, but it’s great to meal prep ahead for work-week lunches as well.
You can use ground beef, ground pork, ground turkey, etc. to make this soup pretty much infinitely adaptable. We love making this soup a creamy one, but you can follow my dairy-free tips. Or go without any of the creamy options for regular taco soup.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Ground beef – is the traditional meat for taco flavors, but ground pork is really good here too as well as ground turkey. Rotate between them all depending on whatever you have on hand. Also if you have game meat in your freezer, this is the perfect recipe for ground bison, elk, deer meat, etc.
- Onion & garlic – provide a good base of flavor for this soup. You can use a food processor to chop the onion and a garlic press for the garlic or throw it in with the onion.
- Taco seasoning – you can use your favorite taco seasoning, but be careful about the amount of salt. I like to use my Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning which takes just minutes to mix together. Also, I find this soup tastes best with 3 tablespoons of taco seasoning, and the store-bought packets only have 2 tablespoons. Check the recipe notes as well for more details, you don’t want a soup that would be too salty!
- Chicken broth – or beef broth, whatever you have on hand. Low-sodium or homemade broth is best so you can control the amount of salt. Especially if you use taco seasoning packets that already have a lot of salt. I call for chicken broth mostly because it’s what I always have on hand, and you can’t taste the difference between beef and chicken in the finished soup.
- Bell pepper – adds a lot of flavor and some bright color to this soup. However, they’re sometimes pricey, so you can make this soup without them when needed.
- Corn – I used canned corn here which is both tasty and budget-friendly, but frozen corn kernels are really good in this soup too. You can also omit the corn completely if you can’t have corn. Try adding some chopped-up zucchini for an extra veggie.
- Black beans – add more protein and are traditional in this soup. However, if you don’t eat beans, dice up a large sweet potato to simmer in this soup instead – it’s so good! You could also use canned pinto beans here as well.
- Canned tomatoes – I like to use fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles for this soup because they add so much flavor. You don’t need to get anything with chilis if you don’t want. But I do recommend fire-roasted tomatoes if you can find them.
- Cream cheese – is what makes this soup creamy, but with a tangy depth that is so yummy! This recipe also works with dairy-free cream cheese, (I used Kite Hill). You can also use 1 cup of unsweetened coconut cream scooped from the top of a refrigerated can of coconut milk. Coconut cream is much more budget-friendly compared to dairy-free cream cheese. You could also use heavy cream in place of the cream cheese, but it does lack some depth of flavor.
How to make this recipe step by step
Step 1: Start by softening the cream cheese for at least 1 hour. When you’re ready to cook mince the garlic, (I use a garlic press) then dice the onion and bell pepper.
Step 2: Next add the ground beef to a large pot and cook breaking it up into small bits. When the meat is partially done and broken up, add the onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onion is turning translucent.
Step 3: Add the taco seasoning, and stir to combine. Then add the diced bell pepper, chicken stock, tomatoes, rinsed black beans, and drained corn.
Garnish Tip: You can hold back about 2 tbsp black beans and corn to sprinkle over the top of the finished soup like you see pictured here. I also chopped up 1 tbsp raw red bell pepper and a handful of green onions.
Step 4: Simmer until the bell pepper and onions are completely tender, about 10 minutes. If you’re using the dairy-free option of unsweetened coconut cream, add it in now so the flavors can simmer together.
Step 5: Add the softened cream cheese in small chunks, the smaller the chunks, the easier it is to mix in. Stir to combine, let the soup sit then stir a bit more to completely combine the cream cheese.
Step 5: Season the soup to taste with sea salt then serve with your choice of toppings.
Ways to serve this
- Make this soup even more hearty by serving it over freshly steamed rice.
- It’s also great over my Roasted Sweet Potatoes or Spaghetti Squash.
- Go wild with the toppings! We love crushed corn chips, green onions, salsa, diced avocado, grated cheddar cheese or pepper jack, fresh diced tomatoes, cilantro, and anything else you can think of. Pick whatever sounds good to you for serving.
Mix together 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch or tapioca starch together with water until smooth. Add the mixture to your simmering soup stirring constantly until it’s your desired thickness.
1 cup of coconut cream or dairy-free cream cheese both work well in this Creamy Taco Soup, see the recipe notes for more details.
You can use my dairy-free options in the recipe, or heavy cream. You can also leave the cream cheese out and make taco soup instead of creamy taco soup. Another option would be to serve this soup with a dollop of sour cream on top to mix in for your creamy flavor.
- To store – place any leftovers into an airtight sealed container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- Make ahead – you can prep your onions and bell pepper ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 2 days before making this soup. This soup also reheats well, so you can make it ahead of time and reheat it to serve. Just keep in mind the leftovers won’t keep for as long.
- Reheating – warm over medium heat stirring frequently until heated through before serving. You don’t want to boil the soup after the cream cheese has been added or it may become grainy. A ‘bare’ simmer is usually fine.
- To freeze – I don’t recommend freezing this soup because cream cheese doesn’t freeze well. You could freeze this soup before the cream cheese is added, or use the unsweetened coconut cream which freezes well.
Tips & Tricks
- Be sure to soften the cream cheese before adding it to the soup, or it will be very hard to dissolve and combine!
- Try some of my different options to keep things interesting. This soup is really good with sweet potato in place of corn or in place of black beans. Ground pork is also so yummy in this soup. Try the different creamy options or go without for regular taco soup. You can’t go wrong with any of these options!
Dietary Options & Substitutions
- Dairy-free – either unsweetened coconut cream or dairy-free cream cheese. You can also make this soup without anything creamy for a regular taco soup.
- Paleo – use the dairy-free option and omit the black beans and corn. Instead, add diced sweet potato to the soup during the simmering step, cook until tender, and serve with paleo toppings.
I really hope you enjoy this Creamy Taco Soup! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Creamy Taco Soup
- 1 pound ground beef - ground pork, or ground turkey
- 1 medium onion - diced 1/4"
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- 3 tbsp taco seasoning - see notes
- 1 large red bell pepper - diced 1/2"
- 15 ounce can corn - drained, or 1.5 cups frozen corn kernels
- 15 ounce can black beans - drained & rinsed
- 15 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes - with chilis, or regular diced tomatoes/fire roasted for mild
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 8 ounces cream cheese - softened at room temperature for at least 1 hour, see notes for dairy free options.
- Sea salt & pepper to taste
- 1 diced avocado, tortilla chips, lime wedges, fresh cilantro/green onions/chopped tomatoes, grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese/sour cream
- Prep and measure the ingredients before starting to cook.
- Place a large pot over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the ground beef and break it up into small bits with a utensil.
- Add the onion and garlic to the ground beef and cook until the onion begins to turn translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
- Next add the taco seasoning, red bell pepper, corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, and chicken stock. (If you're using the unsweetened coconut cream option, add it to the pot now.) Stir to combine, and bring the soup to a boil.
- Once the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the bell pepper is tender and the flavors have melded, about 10 minutes.
- When the soup is done, add the cream cheese to the pot in small pieces. Stir to combine and let sit for a minute or so before stirring again to combine.
- The cream cheese will dissolve into the soup best when it's fully softened. Or you can use the dairy free cream cheese option. Skip this step if you used coconut cream.
- Season to taste with sea salt and pepper, then serve with your choice of toppings.