Tacos: they’re messy but they’re good

16 Aug

I love tacos. I love that they’re easy to make, quick to cook and that each person at the table can personalize his or her own tacos. I love that the ingredients are, for the most part, inexpensive and I love that they can be vegetarian. I love that even though it takes awhile to assemble to the perfect taco, the effort is worth it once you take that first perfect bite. I love that you can eat tacos with your hands (less dishes to clean). What I do not love, however, is how damn messy they are.

Here’s what I envision happening when I eat tacos:

  1. Table is nicely set with taco shells, filling and toppings
  2. Tacos are prepared neatly and arranged artfully on plate
  3. Tacos are eaten in small, dainty bites with no mess
  4. Meal is completed with minimal clean up required

Here’s what really happens when I eat tacos:

  1. Table is set nicely with taco shells, filling and toppings
  2. Tacos are prepared in a rushed, haphazard fashion creating little landmines of salsa, sour cream, cheese and filling all over the table, plate and floor.
  3. Tacos are thrown onto plate in a scattered arrangement
  4. Taco is bitten into, breaks in half, and unleashes a river of mess everywhere including my arm, my boob shelf, my hair, and usually my cheeks, forehead and chin
  5. Said river engulfs previously mentioned landmines, creating a taco swamp of nightmarish proportions

You know that baby picture where you’re topless or covered in a gigantic bib and there’s spaghetti sauce in your hair, on your body, face, the floor, the highchair and most likely the nearest wall? That’s pretty damn close to what I look like when I eat tacos (except I wear a shirt).  Yet none of this prevents me from eating tacos.

Since I love a challenge, and I refused to be outsmarted by food,  I’ve found alternate ways to eat tacos. Some of my favorites include taco cups, taco in a pan and now, taco soup. It’s great to be able to get the flavors and tastes of a taco without the mess. None of the other recipes take much longer than regular tacos and there’s actually less dishes to clean up since there’s no topping bar to worry about.

I made this version of taco soup last night. It was a big hit. My daughter even asked for seconds! It made enough food for leftovers for lunch today and there’s still some left in our fridge. The best part, besides the fact that I’ve outsmarted the taco mess, is that I came up with the recipe on my own after reading about 15 different taco soup recipes:

The Empty Kitchen’s Taco Soup


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef or soy burger crumbles
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained (plain is fine but for extra flavor, try diced tomatoes with jalapeños)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 46 or 48 oz can tomato juice (can substitute with one 28-oz can crushed tomatoes and 2 ½ cups water)
  • optional: shredded cheese, tortilla strips


  1. Heat oil in large pot
  2. Brown ground beef or soy burger crumbles and onion until beef is cooked through and onion is tender
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Do not let soup boil
  4. Heat until desired temperature

Taco in a mug. Yum.


8 Responses to “Tacos: they’re messy but they’re good”

  1. carol August 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    thanks for the laugh especially since i can totally relate.

  2. Sarah August 19, 2010 at 9:16 pm #


  3. Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary August 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    Hysterical. And so true. But I love tacos…can’t give them up even if they are a mess. And it’s waaaaaaay too hot for soup!

  4. Gramma February 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    My mother insisted that the only way to eat tacos was stark nekkid in a bathtub. When done eating, merely turn on the shower and rinse.

    • theemptykitchen February 1, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

      that is actually not a bad idea. your mother was a forward thinker!


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    […] months ago, I posted a recipe for taco soup. I discovered that recipe on a quest to find a neater, cleaner way to eat tacos. I have to admit, […]

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    […] Tacos: they’re messy but they’re good […]

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