Stuffed Pepper Soup

By Ann Fulton

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This one-pot meal offers all the hearty, wholesome deliciousness of traditional stuffed peppers in a soul-warming soup!

This all-in-one meal delivers the hearty, wholesome deliciousness of traditional stuffed peppers in a soul-warming soup!

 

A reasonable amount of chopping is the only chore required for this flavorful soup. The payoff is wholesome comfort food that appeals to kids and adults alike. 

The recipe is a riff on the traditional preparation of bell peppers stuffed with a tomatoey rice and beef mixture. As an added perk, the soup contains all the components of a satisfying meal. 

The combination of colorful vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains will keep you feeling full for hours, while a smattering of herbs and spices (and a sprinkle of cheese upon serving) deliver memorable flavor that has made the soup an easy family favorite in our house. 

Like many tomato-based meals, the flavor of this soup improves over time, meaning a big potful may reward you with another deliciously easy dinner or speedy lunch over the week ahead. 

A crusty roll or wedge of cornbread offers a hint of variety to the meal if so inclined, but short of those extras, the soup will likely still satisfy. 

This all-in-one meal delivers the hearty, wholesome deliciousness of traditional stuffed peppers in a soul-warming soup!

Advance prep options:

If I have a few extra minutes, I like to chop the vegetables in advance. This may be done up to a day in advance. Simply store them, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

This way, the soup will come together more quickly. Once everything is in the pot, the soup simmers for 30 minutes with an occasional stir.

I like to cook the rice separately for several reasons. First, diners can add as much or little as they like to their soup bowl. Of equal importance, the rice won’t overcook in the piping hot soup, and leftovers won’t become too thick, thanks to the grain’s absorbent nature.

Additionally, the rice may be cooked in advance and reheated. Leftover rice is also fair game. That said, the soup is delicious, albeit somewhat less hearty, even if you skip the rice.

Looking for a fool-proof way to prepare white or brown rice?

Those who prefer white rice may appreciate the tricks and tips included in this easy method for Perfectly Cooked Rice. While the post provides adjustments for brown rice, I recently shared my new favorite way to cook brown rice. 

The Best Way to Cook Brown Rice involves a super simple boil technique, and the resulting grains are lighter, fluffier, and plumper compared to the traditional method. The easy approach has led me to choose brown rice far more frequently that I used to. And though all the boys in my family have an affinity for white rice, they, too, have been enjoying the nuttier flavor of the heartier grain.

This all-in-one meal delivers the hearty, wholesome deliciousness of traditional stuffed peppers in a soul-warming soup!

A few more details:

  • Regarding the broth: I used to make the soup with beef broth, but I slightly prefer the flavor when made with chicken broth. That said, use what you have on hand. Homemade stock is an excellent alternative. In this case, add additional seasoning to taste.
  • The soup freezes well: I freeze some of the leftovers in single serving-size containers for easy meals later. It’s better to store without the rice stirred in, as the grains absorb a lot of the liquid and tend to get mushy. When thawing one container for a quick lunch, we usually skip the rice unless we happen to have some leftovers on hand. While it adds a welcome heartiness, the soup is still quite good without it. (More like the consistency of a thick vegetable beef soup.)
  • A word on chopping: To avoid big chunks and create better overall soup consistency, I like to keep the dice of the vegetables fairly small. As a side note, my kids always ate this type of meal more readily when they didn’t see big pieces. If you prefer a chunkier texture, feel free to adjust. 
  • And a great tip… When adding the broth to the pot, reserve some of it and pour it back and forth a few times among the tomato sauce and diced tomato cans. This way, you’ll get every last drop of the tomatoes and sauce. If you forget to save some broth, use a quarter cup of water. 
This one-pot meal offers all the hearty, wholesome deliciousness of traditional stuffed peppers in a soul-warming soup!

To make dinnertime a little easier, you may chop the vegetables up to a day in advance.

This one-pot meal offers all the hearty, wholesome deliciousness of traditional stuffed peppers in a soul-warming soup!

If preferred, ground turkey may be used in place of ground beef. Alternatively, turkey or pork sausage, removed from its casings, may be used instead of or in combination with the ground beef or turkey. 

This all-in-one meal provides the hearty, wholesome deliciousness of traditional stuffed peppers in a soul-warming soup!

Basic pantry ingredients augment the fresh vegetables and ground meat. Once all the ingredients are in the pot, the soup requires just a 30 minute simmer with an occasional stir. 

This one-pot meal offers all the hearty, wholesome deliciousness of traditional stuffed peppers in a soul-warming soup!

We like to top the stuffed pepper soup with shredded cheese. Parmesan, cheddar, and Italian blends are all good options. On this bowl, I used a sharp cheddar that I grated myself. The wedge was very thin, and though it partially shredded and partially crumbled, it tasted great!

If you enjoy cornbread, you make wish to try longtime family and reader favorite Southern (With a Twist) Cornbread. The recipe relies on cornmeal alone–no flour–making it a naturally gluten-free cornbread for those who need it. There’s an easy adaptation for dairy-free diners as well. 

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.
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions

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!

Notes

*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.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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