Inspired by Mexican Picadillo, this healthy Mexican Picadillo Soup features lean ground meat, healthy veggies, and Mexican herbs and spices. It's gluten free and a perfect bowl of comfort on a chilly fall or winter evening. You can have it on the table in 30 to 45 minutes!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - What is Picadillo?
A few months ago, I posted a recipe for Mexican picadillo, and in 2016, I did a Cuban picadillo. I supposed I borrowed a little from each recipe. I consider picadillo (from any region) to be the ultimate Latin comfort food. It's super flavorful, easily customizable, and made with ingredients that are easy to find.
What makes it "picadillo?" Picadillo means mince. Ground meat is the simple answer. In a broader sense, it's a Latin American (or Filipino) dish that includes ground (or minced) meat, potatoes, and a tomato-based sauce.
Essentially, this picadillo recipe takes ingredients you might find in a picadillo, and turns them into a warming soup. If you love soups on a chilly day, you're sure to love this one!
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- ground meat - I'm a fan of ground bison, and typically use it in this soup recipe. It's lean and sustainable compared to ground beef. Check out this burger, these meatballs, and these tacos. You can use ground beef, turkey, chicken, pork, lamb, etc.
- onion - Red, yellow, white, or sweet is fine. You'll sauté half, and purée half.
- ground cumin
- tomatoes - Roma tomatoes are inexpensive and work well!
- chipotles in adobo
- achiote/annatto - You'll want a ground achiote/annatto. It is not spicy, but brings an earthy, warm flavor to the soup, and a brilliant red hue.
- broth - I use beef broth, but chicken broth is fine as well.
- potatoes - Yukon gold is my preference, but use what you have on hand. A small dice gets the soup done more quickly. I use my food chopper to speed things along.
- carrots - Matchstick carrots are a big time saver.
- bell pepper
- Mexican oregano - Use Mediterranean oregano if that's what you have on hand.
- bay leaf
- Brown the ground meat - In a deep soup pot, over medium-high heat, begin browning the meat. NOTE: If you're using very lean meat like ground bison (which is what I typically use), you'll want to add a drizzle of oil to the pot. When the meat is about half cooked, add half of the onion, the ground cumin, and the garlic. While the meat finishes browning, make the tomato purée.
- Make the tomato purée - To the bowl of a large food processor, add the halved tomatoes, the half of a diced onion, 1 or 2 chipotles (they're hot!), the ground annatto (aka achiote), and 1 cup of the broth. Pulse until smooth.
- Continue the soup - Add the tomato purée to the pot along with the diced potatoes and carrots, the Mexican oregano and bay leaf. Stir it to incorporate then cover and simmer 10 minutes.
- Finish the soup - Add the diced bell pepper, corn, remaining broth/stock, salt, and several grinds of pepper. Cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender (about 10 minutes). NOTE: I do a small dice to speed cooking. Nobody likes crunchy potatoes, so do check them before serving!
- To serve - Serve the soup steaming hot as is, or with garnishes as shown in the photos. We like warm corn tortillas with it, but cornbread would be great as well.
Most of the time when I'm not cooking for the blog, I don't follow the recipe. 😉 Here are a few ideas for "ad libbing."
- Spicy - Amp up the chipotle! If you are familiar with chipotle, you may already have an idea how much you want in the pot. I use 2 chipotles with a generous amount of adobo. You can certainly add more.
- Kid friendly - Omit the chipotles entirely, and add a teaspoon or two of smoked paprika to get the smoky flavor without the heat.
- Extra Healthy - Add additional vegetables like kale, spinach (just wilt in the hot soup), or grean beans.
- Vegetarian - Replace ground meat with a quality vegetarian protein like Beyond Beef. Replace broth with vegetable broth.
Starting with a small dice on the vegetables will get this picadillo soup done in about 30 minutes.
You can use any kind of ground meat in this recipe - ground beef, bison, lamb, turkey, chicken, pork, or elk. Can you think of any others?
I suggest beef broth or stock with ground beef, bison, lamb, and elk. Use chicken broth or stock with ground turkey, chicken, and pork.
Yes! I cook for 2, and I either freeze half for a second meal, or we have it for lunch the next day. It's just as good left over.
You can keep the soup in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and in the freezer for 2 to 3 months in an airtight container.
🧂 Useful Stuff
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Comforting soups are a favorite at Andersen casa, even though we really don't have "winter" in south Texas. I'm always looking for new recipes. If you have a favorite, I'd love to have you leave it in the comments section below!
- 1 pound ground meat - I like bison or pork; see Tips in post
- 1 onion - chopped; divided use
- 1 teaspoon garlic - minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 6 roma tomatoes - cut in half (about 1 pound of tomatoes)
- 1 chipotle in adobo - or 2 if you like heat
- 1 teaspoon ground annatto (achiote)
- 3 cups beef broth or stock - divided use; see Tips in post
- 3 medium potatoes - diced
- 2 carrots - diced
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 1 bell pepper - diced
- 1 cup corn kernels - fresh off the cob, frozen, or canned
- ½ teaspoon sea salt - if using salted broth, taste first!
- several grinds pepper
- In a deep soup pot, over medium-high heat, begin browning the meat. NOTE: If you're using very lean meat like ground bison, you'll want to add a drizzle of oil to the pot. When the meat is about half cooked, add half of the onion, the ground cumin, and the garlic.
- To the bowl of a large food processor, add the halved tomatoes, the other halfof the onion, 1 or 2 chipotles, ground annatto (aka achiote), and 1 cup of the broth. Pulse until smooth.
- Add the tomato purée to the pot along with the diced potatoes and carrots, the Mexican oregano and bay leaf. Stir, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
- Add diced bell pepper, corn, remaining broth/stock, salt, and several grinds of pepper. Cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender (about 10 minutes).
- Serve as is or garnish (suggestions in post).
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.