at-last-this-soup Recipes

red pepper soup

I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. You see, I’ve told you about a lot of soups–I mean, a lot of soups–but I haven’t gotten to share with you this awesome red pepper soup I plucked from the New York Times nearly two years ago because I started this site just a little bit past pepper season.

red bell pepper

So, for ten months, I have tap-tap-tapped my feet until peak peck-o-pepper-picking time came round again and I could tell you about what a find this soup really was. And yesterday, yesterday when I hadn’t planned to make dinner because I was tired and completely uninspired, on the way home it hit me that there is no more legitimate time of year to buy pepper than the present, and suddenly I was enticed into cooking again. So, I swung into Garden of Eden–which by the way, charges the same atrocious prices for bell peppers whether they’re in season or not–got the two ingredients I didn’t already have and burst into the apartment with a “Ta-da!” and a “Guess what!” and a “I finally get to make the red pepper soup tonight!”

red bell peppers

People, you should have seen my one-and-only’s face. Tears of joy? Relief that he’d been saved from take-out boxes? Excitement that we were going to eat one of the best soups in my repertoire? Nope, didn’t happen, not even close. His expression was flat. Zero reaction. And then he said, “Couldn’t you just pickle them instead?”

red pepper prep

What a pain in the peck. I mean, what does he think it is, like 95 degrees outside and not soup weather or something? Yawn. Really, can you tell me why people will eat cooked dishes and panini sandwiches and–this is the hardest for me to bear witness to–large, hot coffees in the most scorching days in July but if you suggest soup, they act like you’re smoking the hoochie pipe?

thyme

So we ordered Thai food, which I may add is way warmer and heavier than soup, but tonight, as you may have guessed, I didn’t let anybody, even the one who washes the dishes (and carries the heavy groceries and always brings me water when I’m thirsty and, well now, I’m feeling kinda guilty, great!) talk me out of it.

red pepper soup prep

I hope you appreciate what mountains I have to climb, what setbacks I have to overcome, what adversity I must persevere in the face of to share with you these beloved recipes. But even if you don’t, and really, that’s cool, I’ll just go pout in the corner for a while I’M NOT MAD, I do hope you try this soup, because I’ve owed it to you for ten months plus one day in now and I still think it was worth the wait.

i really love this soup

Red Pepper Soup
Adapted from the New York Times 9/21/05

Makes six large servings, 12 demitasse size.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/4 cup sliced onions
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup dry white wine
12 large red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Salt and white or black pepper
Crème fraîche for garnish
Thyme sprigs for garnish.

Put oil in large pot. Add onion when oil is hot. Cook onions until they begin to soften and take on color. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add wine and cook down quickly and on high heat, until only one tablespoon is left. Add peppers, stock, thyme and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until peppers are tender, about 30 minutes. In food processor or with an immersion blender, puree mixture in until smooth (if a food processor, in batches). Adjust seasonings to taste.

Soup can be served warm or chilled. Serve in demitasse cups or soup bowls, topped with a dab of crème fraîche and a tiny sprig of thyme.

Do ahead: Cover and chill overnight or for as long as 2 days or freeze (whisk well before serving if thawed).

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88 comments on red pepper soup

  1. Peter Griffin voice: Ohhhh yeah, that soup is happening for real!

    Dorky question: How long can this be frozen? Here in TX, it’s not exactly soup season (heck, it’s not “cooking” season, who am I kidding) but maybe making this now and freezing it for that one cold day in January when I think, “hey, homemade soup would be great for the next 5 minutes” would be viable.

    Please advise, thanks! And thanks for sharing, as always.

  2. Oh. My. Gawd.

    I only found your site last week, and I have already bookmarked it and read through every post in the archives. Obsessed much? Ok, yeah, I guess so. Love food…love to cook, eat and read about it. So much so that I just started my own blog today. And I check in here just before heading off to bed and what do I see? A red pepper soup recipe…oh glorious red peppers…with that lovely ruby red color and sweet and sharp flavor. My fav soup ever. Bless you, bless you, bless you!!! :: making plans to purchase said peppers for tomorrow night’s dinner ::

  3. Wow, this looks awesome! I have been eating bell peppers nonstop, and have made your black bean confetti salad a couple of times in the last few weeks. :) Fish tacos, too.

    Come visit St. Louis, we have awesome bell peppers and they’ve been on sale 2 for $3. Yeay!

  4. A tasty variation is to roast the peppers under the broiler before you use them. I made a very similar recipe a while back that was in a chicken broth ad in Donna Hay magazine (one thing I love about Donna Hay; even the ads are inspiring), served it in demitasse cups with creme fraiche and a basil leaf and called it an amuse bouche.

    Thanks for the reminder to make it again!

  5. Just when I was wondering about what to do with the bell peppers I’ve had lying around, waiting all week, you come around and offer me this. It must be faith.

  6. Would this be good with green peppers too? I know the color would be a little off-putting, but they are much more readily-available at the farmers market near me. To get 12 decent ones I would have better luck with green, but would that ruin the soup?

  7. 12 peppers! That’s a lot of peppers.
    The pepper plant growing on my deck (aka fire escape) just had their first harvest and have plenty more blooms, so you’ve got a whole lot more of pepper season to look forward to. Too bad mine are all purple, not red.

  8. Mmmm.. this looks wonderful!! I love peppers. I love them in any form and in any color – i accept pepper of all shades – equal opportunity and all. Do you think that if I make this with yellow, orange AND red peppers it’ll look pretty??

  9. Personally I could eat soup year round. Maybe not heavy cream laden chowders, but I can totally do vegetable and broth soups everyday. I think living in Florida kind of made me immune to it because that thing you northerns call “fall”, well in Florida we call that winter, and it really doesn’t stick around too long. Also it rains ALOT here, so those are the days the chowder gets pulled out.

  10. Ethan — I think most soups are good in the freezer for at least three months. Perhaps even six, if well-sealed and nice and cold. I’m hoping others who freeze more will jump in and advise as well.

    Amy — I am sure it wouldn’t ruin the soup at all. In fact, I’ve often wanted to try an all purple, orange or yellow one, whichever peppers I can find. Just don’t burn the roof of your mouth eating it the night before a dentist appointment, as I have learned the hard way so nobody else has to!

    Radish — I am sure it would be. You could even throw in a hot one, for a little surprise!

  11. We’ve got bushels of PURPLE peppers at the farm and I’m wondering how this soup might look with them… I’ve got to try! But there’s something so alluring and down-right-velvety-looking about the bright red hue of yours. And, Deb, you’re photography skills are just so darn good now that you have a proper lens that I’m sure that contributes to the visual drool factor too.

    One final thought – when it’s too hot to cook, I fall back on Trader Joe’s roasted red pepper and tomoato soup… it’s *almost* (but not quite) as good as homemade.

  12. Ah, I love Red Pepper soup! A dear friend of mine, who is a fantastic cook, counts this same recipe as a “most requested” in her repertoire. Being from Maryland, however, she tops the soup with a small heap of fresh lump crabmeat. Talk about divine!

    Deb, thanks so much for your glorious website. Your pictures are breathtaking, and every post inspires me to get into the kitchen.

  13. Those photos are simply gorgeous. You have outdone even some of your past best work.

    I make a wonderful corn and red pepper soup that tastes fabulous in high summer when fresh corn is in season (in MN, its every reason to be reverent right about now) and I have no problem eating soup in warm weather. Lighter soups are a treat when it’s hot. Call me crazy.

  14. Looks deeeeelish. I didn’t actually know there *was* a pepper season, but then I’m from California. I also REALLY love the NY Times Gazpacho recipe. Super messy, but really great. It’s in the current NY Times cookbook, but I couldn’t find it online. It’s really tomatoey and cucumbery.

  15. Hi Deb,
    I’m new here(your blog) I love the site…but wished it had a printer friendly format. When I have printed out your recipes they come out so small…lol
    Take care

  16. Hi Deb! I love your site it’s great, I’ve been reading it for a bit and have even tried some of the recipes! (Yummy by the way.) :)
    I’m looking for a really great cupcake recipe. I’m making them for my 18th birthday instead of cake and since your blog is basically food heaven, I was wondering if you knew of any good ones?

    thanks!
    Shannon

  17. Greg — Coming soon! It’s true. I’m finally working on some updates to the site, and that is one of them. In the meanwhile, not sure if it will translate to your printer from your browser or not, but Control and the (+) sign will increase the font size, Control and (-) will decrease. Highlighting just the recipe and then choosing “Print” from the pull-down menu (if on a PC, I don’t speak Mac yet) and “this selection” will allow you to avoid printing all the comments, text and huge photos. You probably know all this, but this is for anyone out there who might say “ah-ha!” upon reading it.

    Shannon — Vanilla or chocolate cupcakes? For the chocolate, I’d definitely use the recipe in the post before this. As for vanilla, I have yet to hit my vanilla cupcake nirvana, but I liked this one alright. Next time I’m looking for one, however, I’m rereading this post on Cupcake Blog first, as she compares Martha Stewart’s, Magnolia Bakeshop’s and Amy Sedaris’s cupcake recipes. I’ve used the Magnolia recipe with a high success rate. I’ve also hear good things about Clare Crespo’s basic recipe.

  18. When I was hanging out with some friends the other night, a debate ensued about hot weather and hot food items and who wouldn’t eat them… I’ve decided officially that everyone is crazy, myself included. Some people don’t drink hot coffee, some don’t eat soup and some people never drink coffee cold and refuse to eat soup in the summer AND some people don’t like soup at all, which is probably the only picky food preference I would ever discriminate against. Thanks for sharing!

  19. That looks fantastic. A slight variation that I’ve been served: make two soups, one from red pepper, one from green or yellow. They’re thick enough so that it’s possible to s.l.o.w.l.y. ladle first the one, then the other into soup bowls together for a yin-yangy serving.

  20. Jennie — I think I saw that on Epicurious once! But, and this is just from memory, I believe that soup had a lot of heavy cream in it, so I always find myself going back to this one, where I never notice a lack of creaminess. But it sure sounded pretty.

  21. Another variation would be to use yellow bell peppers, which I think are the most flavorful. Try some cilantro instead of thyme (if you like cilantro). Add about a tsp of lemon zest. This makes a refreshing, almost “cool” tasting soup. Panda Curry

  22. I’m so sorry I’m back-posting (I just made that up), but I haven’t been checking the site out much and it’s only because I’m far from home and my computer. Otherwise I check it religiously each day. This soup is so great looking and is definitely on my list of things to cook when I go home.

  23. I made this soup last night for a dinner party I had, and let me tell you….it was a success like nothing I have ever made before. All six of my guests wanted seconds, and the entire pot was empty in no time! Thanks for a fantastic, wonderfully simple and fresh recipe that made me look like a pro!

  24. I’d love to try this recipe, but as a German I have difficulties with my translation.

    Does “for as long as 2 days” mean that I have to keep it in the fridge for two days (aka “at least two days” before eating) or at maximum “up to two days”?

    The pictures look fantastic.

  25. Hi Balu — Ha, I can assure you that wasn’t good English on the recipe-writer’s part, either. Yes, it means it is good in the fridge for up to two days, (but you can eat it right away, too). The recipe was just trying to give you an idea of what could be made ahead to save you time. Hope that helps!

  26. Do you think that I could use jarred, red peppers for this recipe instead of fresh? This time of year, fresh are hard, and expensive, to come by! Thanks!

  27. Hi Kayla — I haven’t tried it with jarred ones, so can’t give it my vote of confidence. However, I find the quality of frozen peppers–especially from Cascadian Farms and other brands I find at Whole Foods–to be excellent. I am sure you could use those and get good summer flavor out of the soup.

  28. Yes a year later and you are reciving comments!
    i Googled “red pepper soup” and of all the recipes I clicked on yours.
    Your commentary and photos are delightful!
    I live in La Paz, Baja California Sur. We treat summer like folks in other parts of the world treat winter: we stay inside as much as we can, artificially regulate our indoor climate and read, create, take siesta and eat.Even swimming is an early morning or late evening event, the sun is just too intense. We lose our tans in summer.
    My beloved is napping, I awoke from my nap hungry, and decided to make red pepper soup. It’s Sunday, it’s hot, and the thought of driving to town to grocery shop and go in and out of the car and be sticky and hot was worse than having no groceries in the house.So for the second day in a row we decided to “eat out of the refrigerator’ as my mother used to say.
    So I looked in the refrigerator and saw that I had lot’s of huge, red, luscious, thick and crisp red peppers.
    So I am off to the la cocina to cook.
    I make a wonderful cream of pob;lano chili soup. Red peepre here i come.

  29. Hi Deb, I have a massive craving for corn chowder – is there a recipe you have in your arsenal, or one that you recommend? I know it’s not corn season, but I was thinking to go with frozen or canned… thanks so much!

  30. Again your website lures me, as my cookbooks gather dust. This was ridiculously easy and ridiculously good (and ridiculously cheap since I found 3# bags of orange peppers for 2 bucks at the market yesterday…) I’m eating it cold (it IS June, after all), and my only comment is that it is even better with a big spoonful of harissa in each serving. Then again, almost everything is better with a big spoonful of harissa!

  31. This was absolutely amazing! I saw that red bell peppers were 2 for 79 cents this week at my local market and knew I had to finally try this recipe. Definitely a keeper!

  32. I have recently moved to China and have taken to lookiing up all my recipes online, and I stumbled upon this one. It is simple enough that I could find all the ingredients easily and it was full of flavor and quite delicious. I used half red and half green peppers however I don’t have a blender of any kind so I mashed it using the back of a spoon as much as I could, and was actually quite pleased with the resulting texture. Although not smooth as your recipe calls for, the medley of red and green was much more tempting than the resulting brown mush would have been. Thanks for the post, I’m looking forward to trying out many more recipes.

  33. I have a soup group at work of nine employees that rotate turns bringing soup for everyone on Mondays. They were just asking for a pureed soup for this week and I found your recipe. It is amazing. I added a little extra red pepper flakes and some dried oregano at the end. Delicious!

  34. My introduction to your blog entailed a combo dinner of this soup with your chicken-chorizo emapanadas (https://smittenkitchen.com/2007/04/chicken-revisited-and-enlightened/). Needless to say, they both rocked and I loved dipping the empanadas into the soup as a spoon.

    Being from Texas, and pretty much liking it on everything, I added a handful of chopped cilantro to the recipe and it was magnificent. I had leftovers the next day and fried up some flour tortillas I had sitting around to eat with the soup and it was great. The recipe is like a quirky and easier to make version of tortilla soup. I will be making this again.

    What a great couple of recipes!

  35. I love soups any time of the year and although I grew up in Massachusetts, I moved down here to Mississippi a few years ago to help with hurricane relief and even though the summers here are RIDICULOUSLY HOT I still eat soup whenever I feel like it.

    Also, this reminds me of a carrot soup I make (or used to make since we currently don’t have a blender or food processor) basically the same recipe but substitute peppers for the same volume of carrotts, and at the end add in just a smidge of heavy cream. I have also done it where you roast the carrrots before adding them with the onion in the pan and it brings out their sweet flavor better.

  36. I made this for company the other day and it was a huge hit. I used red peppers, onions, and garlic purchased straight from the farmers’ market, with homemade chicken stock. For whatever reason, it ended up more of an orange colour than red, and with chunks of peppers, since my blender is a bit on the antiquated side, but it was still delicious. I served it chilled with a dollop of sour cream and a shaved asparagus salad with homemade croutons. Delish!

  37. I LOVE soup, and I LOVE red peppers. But, I hate my lack of money to be allocated towards helpful kitchen tools. Please divulge a method for making soup if one does not have an immersion blender, nor a food processor. What did our grandmother’s do? Anxiously waiting for homemade soup solutions- Brie.

  38. made this last night…hot as all get out down here in India! Used a blender… added a bit of ginger and touch of mint for my sore-throated wife. She was very happy! Thanks for posting…also think that a bit of cucumber might make it even better chilled.

  39. Hi Deb,

    I just made this and tasted for seasoning, and am surprised to find a distinct metallic flavor. I’m not sure I can save this soup, which is a little disappointing considering I made it to remedy a bad day! Do you have any idea what the issue might be? I suspect it’s because I didn’t use organic peppers, but they were really expensive today. =[

    At least I have Leite’s cookie dough chilling in the fridge. Also waiting to cut into your goat cheese/onion cornbread — here’s hoping something worked out.

    1. Could you have used an aluminum or reactive pot or bowl along the way? That can cause a metallic or tinny flavor in acidic ingredients.

  40. Deb, this was amazing as usual, and SO easy for a make ahead dinner. One little tweak for us (we’re not fans of sour cream or creme fraiche around here) was to melt in a dollop of mascarpone cheese just after pureeing with the immersion blender. It gave it just a bit of richness without being too creamy, and without the tang of creme fraiche. Can’t wait for dinner tomorrow!

  41. Was very excited to make this soup since I just bought a flat of red peppers (25) at the local farmers market. Followed the recipe to a T – although I added extra garlic cloves and 4 huge onions – also purchased from the local farmers market on Saturday. This soup was as bland as could be. I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and maybe that’s the reason, but it took considerable “doctoring” up of additional seasonings to make this into a tasty soup. It certainly was easy enough to make, but I don’t think I’d make it again.

  42. I had an amazing red pepper soup at a restaurant the other day and was trying to replicate it when I looked on your site. I was already roasting the peppers in the oven as I read your recipe. Thanks to you I started making chicken broth right away–and I love the idea of the white wine and the thyme.And I was going to add cream–but now I feel like it would be fine not to. It is now legitamately Fall as I write this (and still pepper season at the farmers market– happily!)and NO ONE could dispute it being SOUP SEASON (agreed tho that every season is soup season..) The roasted peppers add a lovely smoky-sweet flavor. Have you ever tried it with (oven)smoked peppers?Warmed the kitchen up nicely too.

  43. Bliss, yet again. I used shalots (just because I had some left over), and everything was warming and wonderful. I found it made several more portions than you specified, but I’m not complaining :) Thank you!

  44. I realized this weekend that I had a LOT more peppers (red and green, mostly green) than I realized. I needed to use them up before they spoiled and found your recipe for a comforting soup made with *surprise* peppers! Instead of crème fraîche I used Greek yogurt and the result is delicious. We live in a small town with three huge farms, and I can’t wait to try it again in the summer with peppers fresh from the fields. Thank you!

  45. I look forward to trying this. This is the best eating/enjoying site I know! Meanwhile, this has been my go-to (roasted) red pepper soup for years. You can use good jarred peppers, but it’s just not the same. Patrick O’Connell does know his stuff:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=pnuFW6zT0T8C&pg=PA162&lpg=PA162&dq=patrick+o'connell+red+pepper+soup&source=bl&ots=r0yVaITJdd&sig=3tvy3sFIjFFajui0MSVQZoZBB-w&hl=en&ei=yzhoTpS9IYWCgAf1yuTIDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=patrick%20o'connell%20red%20pepper%20soup&f=false

  46. My husband bought a huge bag of red peppers because they were on sale, so I said maybe I can find a red pepper soup recipe on line. This popped up..hope it turns out.

  47. This looks delicious! I’m making it as we speak and I was wondering if anyone had tried roasting a few of the peppers before adding to lend a smokier flavor?

  48. I have made a roasted red pepper soup for years. The recipe is in one of Jeanne Lemlin’s cookbooks (main course vegetarian pleasures, I think) and it’s delicious. And she includes a recipe for dill dumplings to cook in the soup. Together, they really make a meal.

  49. I discovered your blog about 2 years ago now, due to my coworker in Denmark (I am back in California now) making this for our first “girls night” dinner. It was my first Smitten Kitchen recipe I made and I have since whipped this up at least a dozen times. Always a hit.. Plus it makes my small apartment smell amazing. A big thank you to you, Deb, for teaching this 25 yr old to not be lazy in small studio kitchen. Each recipe I conquer is a new favorite.

  50. Delicious soup! I thickened the leftovers with more red peppers and onions and made it into a pasta sauce for lunch the next day.

  51. This soup sounds delicious and red peppers are on sale this week- a sign! I don’t have any white wine on hand (and don’t drink alcohol) so am wondering if you think I could just substitute more chicken broth or another substitute for the wine without sacrificing the final flavor? Thank you!

  52. My husband and I just doubled this recipe (yup, my hero cut up 24 peppers!) for a family party. The flavor is delicious and the color is gorgeous but there’s one problem and I’m hoping you have an easy solution: There are little bits of pepper skin throughout that just seem to be getting stuck to the roof of our mouths and backs of our tongues. We’ve immersion-blended it for at least 10 minutes past “smooth” and even cooked it another :30 just to see if they’d break down. As a last-ditch effort we started straining it, but it got so thin that we stopped. Any suggestions? We’re going to be so embarrassed if our 40 family members end up spitting out little pepper skin pieces! Thanks in advance!

  53. I am new to soup making and this was a great recipe to start with! It turned out as beautiful as your amazing photos. Honestly, I had a dining room table full of produce that needed some attention and a few of the peppers were about to turn. They didn’t impact the soup. Wonderful recipe! Thank you for giving me a reason to buy myself a nice immersion blender!

  54. Do you think I could use beef stock instead of chicken or vegetable here? I already have an open container of beef stock and I’d like to use it up. Thanks Deb!

  55. This is my go-to Christmas eve soup. I am so relieved to be able to just find it, and go shop for the ingredients. Recently I lost my paper address book and so I’m feeling totally unmoored, so it is a special sense of relief that I can still find you, Deb, and your wonderful recipes. For example, I can’t call my dear friend and mother stand in for her molasses crinkles recipe– I no longer have her number. argh. BTW, I was at the Coolidge Corner book talk, one of the people who got in on standby, because I had no clue what a phenom Smitten Kitchen had become. It was wonderful to see & hear you in person, and so surprising, in a way. Each of us has what feels like a personal, individual relationship with the site, and you by extension. We come here in search of a beloved recipe or something new, but usually, I’m alone, thinking about cooking, oblivious to the fact that so many other people are doing the same thing. The website is so appealing, so clean and spacious with beautiful photos, your wonderful story telling and great ideas and recipes. Thank you so much. The narrative of the book tour also sustains my own belief in how important it is to do what you love, and not think too much about what others think. So refreshing. Thank you.

  56. Deb,

    I am browsing your recipes to see if you have ever posted a soufflé. I had a goat cheese and red pepper soufflé on a cruise to Alaska a few years back. It was absolute heaven and I really want to try and make one. I would LOVE it you did a soufflé recipe! I know you would make it simple and delicious!

    1. Julie — Gah, I haven’t! But, I made a goat cheese souffle a few months ago I was going to share later in the year, when we’re all in more of an entertaining frame of mind. Maybe it’s close!

  57. I’ve made this soup many times over the past few years, and love it! I was recently thwarted by Fresh Direct, who brought 12 green peppers instead of red, so decided to give a green version a try. I do NOT suggest doing this on purpose, it was very, very disappointing. Do something else with your green peppers!

  58. Wow! I made this soup yesterday and we ate some today and it was a very big hit! It looks gorgeous and tastes delicious. Thanks.

  59. So one day I had my sweet 8 mo old baby at the local coffee place with me and I ordered tomato red pepper soup and my baby BEGGED for it-and loved it…so each day after that I called to find out what the soup of the day was- and when I found out it was red pepper soup I rushed down to buy a whole quart of it. The kid behind the counter looked at me quizzically then poured a quart of Trader Joe’s roasted red pepper and tomato soup into a to-go carton. Right from the carton. Then he said “Um…you’re gonna have to heat it up.” True story.
    By the way- this soup was great. The farm stand only had yellow peppers so I used those and roasted cherry tomatoes. Lovely.

  60. I have been craving this soup since I first made it with a neighbors bounty of peppers last fall – but alas, they are out of season and at least a dollar each – so I bought a bag of sweet peppers at Costco today and used them – mostly red and yellow – will miss the red color.Smell incredible in my little house right now – hope it is as satisfying and delicious. Can’t wait for gardening season to roll around.