Healthy Soup Food Drive

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top view of chicken tortilla soup

Our Brunswick County Office of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service is conducting a different kind of food drive as part of our celebration of Small Farms Week. Instead of the usual collection of general canned foods, we’re asking for specific items and we’d also like you to make these donations healthier choices, if possible.

We’re collecting seven ingredients that can be put together to make a simple but hearty chicken tortilla soup kit. Recipes will be added and these kits will be donated to food pantries here in Brunswick County. The whole kit will cost less than $10. We’d like you to try it out for yourself and buy an extra set of all seven items to donate.

top down view of 7 open cans of food


  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained 
  • 1 (12.5 oz.) can chicken breast, drained 
  • 1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth 
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk 
  •  3 Tablespoons of low-sodium taco seasoning 


  1. Drain and rinse beans and corn. If using canned coconut milk, it will need to be shaken or stirred. 
  2. Add all items into a large stockpot and stir together. Add in the taco seasoning and stir again until well combined. 
  3. Heat the contents of the pot over medium-high heat until the soup is hot. Stir occasionally. Serve hot. Makes 6-8 servings.
  4. Keep leftovers chilled. If you do not have refrigeration, eat within 4 hours. 

Recipe Tips:

  • Serve with toping of your choice: Toppings can include shredded cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt, avocado, and tortilla chips.
  • To increase the spice factor in this soup, use hot sauce or add a can of diced green chiles. 
  • Fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley can be added to the soup for more flavor. 
  • The soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days and freezes well.

Nutrition Notes:

Purchase low-sodium or unsalted canned foods when possible. Rinsing the regular type can help reduce the sodium by 30% (which is better than nothing). The American Heart Association says the average American eats so much excess sodium, even cutting back by 1,000 milligrams a day can significantly improve blood pressure and heart heath. Usually unsalted low-sodium products are available at a similar cost to regular.

Using a low-sodium taco seasoning can help reduce your sodium intake, too. If you don’t have one in your cupboard, you can make your own mix or add herbs and spices of your own. The typical taco seasoning mix contains cumin, chili powder, garlic and paprika. For extra zap, add some cayenne pepper. If you’re buying commercial low-sodium taco spice mix, consider adding a bottle or pack to your soup donation kit.

When selecting coconut milk, look for the unsweetened (no added sugar) versions. Coconut milk is a high fat product. One-half cup contains 200 calories, 18 grams of fat and it is all saturated fat. The coconut milk adds thickness to the soup. When shopping you could replace the coconut milk with canned condensed milk or a small box of almond or oat milk. The milk could be eliminated completely, extra water or broth could be added if the soup is too thick. 

Donations can be brought to our office at 25 Referendum Drive, Bolivia, NC 28422. Our office is located in Building N in the Government Center Complex and the hours are 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. We’d love to have the by Friday March 11 if possible. For more information contact Rachel Bland, Family and Consumer Science Agent at our office.

Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-2610 or by email at