Stuffed Pepper Soup
Yield: 6 servings (2½ + quarts)
A hearty, wholesome, one-pot meal that offers all the appeal of traditional stuffed peppers in a soul-warming soup. Easy to make with basic ingredients, Stuffed Pepper Soup reheats well and the flavor improves over time.


  • 1 tablespoon (14ml) olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (could substitute ground turkey or ground pork or turkey sausage)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup/140g)
  • 1 cup (140g) diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup (140g) diced green bell pepper
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced (may substitute ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth (may sub beef broth)
  • 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, dried thyme leaves, and paprika (or ½ teaspoon smoked paprika)
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley (could substitute a handful of chopped spinach or kale)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar*
  • 1 cup (180g) uncooked long grain white or brown rice**
  • Optional for serving: shredded cheddar, Italian blend, or Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the beef and brown, breaking it up as you go and seasoning with a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. With a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl or plate. Drain off the grease in the pot, leaving a tablespoon or so to sauté the vegetables. (Alternatively, you may fully drain the grease and add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pot.)

    Then, over medium heat, sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes or until turning golden in spots. Add the red and green bell pepper and garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes more, adding a pinch or two of salt and pepper.

    Pour in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, oregano, thyme, paprika, and the cooked beef. Bring the soup to a light boil, and then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions. Once the soup is done, stir in the fresh parsley, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. (I add ½ teaspoon of salt at this point, but total amount will depend on broth used, how lightly or liberally you seasoned earlier in the process, and personal preference.) Stir in desired amount of rice, top with optional cheese, and enjoy!


*Why sugar? My grandmother taught me the sugar trick years ago: a small amount neutralizes the acidity of the tomatoes, which is higher in canned tomatoes, which typically rely on lemon juice or citric acid to achieve a safe pH for canning. You may skip it if you prefer, although you may notice that the overall flavor is more balanced when you use it. Optionally, honey or brown sugar could be used.

**Why cook the rice separately? This ensures that the rice doesn’t overcook as the piping hot soup sits. It also means the absorbent grains won’t soak up all the broth and become mushy as any leftovers sit in the refrigerator.

Flavor adjustments:

  • Use ground pork or turkey sausage instead of the ground beef—or use half and half.
  • Use 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend instead of the dried oregano and thyme. This soup also takes well to fresh herbs beyond the parsley, like basil and chives. For the oregano and thyme, you may also substitute 1 tablespoon each fresh minced.
  • Instead of basic canned tomato sauce, use an equal amount of your favorite homemade or store-bought marinara (like Rao’s).
  • Use a can of stewed tomatoes (chopped) in place of one of the cans of diced tomatoes.
  • For a hint of heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes along with the dried herbs.

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