Healthy Stuffed Pepper Soup is everything you love about stuffed peppers in a fuss-free warming bowl of soup. With your choice of protein and cooking method (stovetop, Instant Pot or slow cooker) – ‘unstuffed’ pepper soup couldn’t be simpler!
Table of contents
- Easy Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Why Make Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup?
- How to Make Healthy Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Optional Add-In’s and Variations
- Tips for Best Results
- Serving Recommendations
- Making This Recipe in Advance
- More Favorite Recipes to Try
Easy Stuffed Pepper Soup
As the weather starts to cool, I love turning family favorites into hearty, warming soups and stews that warm you to the bones and fill up your belly. Like ground turkey taco soup, ‘baked potato’ soup, chicken tortilla soup, and this healthy stuffed pepper soup (or as I call it ‘unstuffed’ pepper soup!).
As much as I love stuffed pepper recipes (I’ve posted Mexican, ground chicken stuffed peppers, and Instant Pot versions of them!), admittedly they aren’t the quickest/easiest meal going. When transforming it into a bell pepper soup, though, you can enjoy all the flavors the ‘lazy’ way- just like lazy ’unstuffed’ cabbage rolls or my Instant Pot beef stew.
Why Make Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup?
- Easy and versatile to prepare: Cook on stovetop, Instant Pot, or slow cooker.
- Hearty one-pot meal: Tender rice, veggies, ground meat and herbs provide fat, fiber and protein.
- Nourishing and immune-boosting: Loaded with vegetables high in both antioxidants and vitamin C, A, and E.
- Budget-friendly: Made with pantry staples you probably have already have on hand!
- Families love: Even veggie-hating children gobble up this delicious soup.
- Freezer and meal-prep friendly: A big batch of soup means you can ‘save’ some for later!
- Packed with flavor: A slow simmered broth (or magic of Instant Pot) means ingredients are wonderfully ‘melded.’
- Naturally gluten-free and dairy-free: Can be adjusted to paleo (swap grain), keto (cauli rice and keto sweetener), whole30 or vegetarian.
While the list may look a little long, this soup is primarily made of pantry staples and easy-to-find ingredients.
- Protein: You can use ground turkey, chicken, or beef for this stuffed bell pepper soup recipe. I usually use ground turkey as a lower fat, lower cholesterol (and lower calorie) option.
If you decide to use ground beef, I recommend you drain the fat after browning it! Also, choose a lean beef option like 90% lean ground beef where possible.
- Aromatics: You’ll need onion (white/yellow onion) and garlic cloves (use garlic powder in a pinch), plus bay leaves.
- Vegetables: All you need is celery and, of course, bell peppers. You can use yellow, orange, red, or green bell peppers (or a combination). Note that green bell peppers aren’t as sweet/are slightly bitter.
- Rice: You can use white or brown rice- though the brown requires a longer cooking time.
- Seasonings: I used a combination of thyme, oregano, salt, and black pepper.
- Tomatoes: Unstuffed pepper soup requires a can of diced tomato PLUS some low-sodium tomato sauce
- Broth: You can use vegetable, chicken, or beef broth, or even water.
- Sweetener: A little honey or maple syrup will help balance the acidity in the tomato products.
- Vinegar: Just a teaspoon of white vinegar adds depth to the flavor of this stuffed pepper soup. Alternatively, you could add a little lemon juice or Worcestershire sauce.
- Herbs: Fresh parsley or dill will work well, finely chopped, as garnish.
- Oil: Use any neutral cooking oil (like olive or avocado oil). For an oil-free version, you could use a little water of broth for sauteing the ingredients.
If you don’t have any low-sodium products, I recommend skipping adding any extra salt until the very end. Then add any extra to taste.
How to Make Healthy Stuffed Pepper Soup
There is a full recipe card below for the complete method and ingredients list for this healthy stuffed pepper soup.
1. On the Stovetop
- Prep the ingredients: Peel and dice the onion, mince the garlic, and chop the bell peppers and celery.
- Sear the meat: Heat a large Dutch oven (I use my beloved 6-quart Dutch oven) or thick-bottomed pan over high heat with a swirl of oil. Once hot, add the diced onion, fresh garlic (if using), and ground meat. Saute for five minutes, stirring often and breaking the meat down into smaller pieces.
- Saute the vegetables: Then, add the chopped bell pepper, celery, rice, and spices (including garlic powder if you aren’t using fresh). Saute for a further three minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the broth ingredients: Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth (or water), sweetener, vinegar, and bay leaves to the pan. Stir well and bring to a boil.
- Allow the soup to simmer: Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes (white rice) or 40 minutes (brown rice).
- Taste and adjust: After simmering, ensure the rice is tender (if not, simmer covered for a further few minutes). Once tender, stir, taste, and adjust any of the seasonings to taste. Then serve, topped with the chopped herbs and optionally a dollop of plain yogurt and toasted bread. You could even add a sprinkling of cheese if preferred!
I recommend allowing the pepper soup to sit covered for five minutes off the heat if you have time.
2. Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Brown the beef (with the garlic and onions) on the stovetop, then add to the slow cooker.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
- Cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours. Enjoy your slow cooker bell pepper soup!
3. 15 Minute Instant Pot Soup
- Use the saute function to brown the meat (with garlic and onion) for several minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add all the remaining ingredients to the Instant Pot.
- Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes (when using brown rice) or 10 minutes (using long-grain white rice/basmati), using Quick Release. Then enjoy your Instant Pot bell pepper soup! Alternately, just make my Instant Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup
Optional Add-In’s and Variations
- Spice: If you’d like to add a hint of heat to this unstuffed pepper soup, I recommend adding either a little chili powder, red pepper flakes, or even hot sauce to taste. You could even add some canned chopped chilies for an extra kick.
- Seasoning: You could swap out the Italian herbs for taco seasoning.
- Lower-carb: You could use cauliflower rice in the place of regular rice. I like to saute it separately then stir it into the soup before serving.
- Other veg: Beef up this unstuffed pepper soup further with extra veggies like pieas, corn, beans, etc.
- Lemon: You can serve this healthy stuffed pepper soup with lemon wedges to add some ‘bright’ flavor to the soup.
- Cumin: A pinch of cumin adds a wonderful extra layer of flavor to the soup.
- Toppings: There are several toppings you could use for this healthy stuffed bell pepper soup. These include cheese (Cheddar or Monterey Jack work well), sour cream or yogurt, tortilla chips. Avocado slices, etc.
Tips for Best Results
- Using leftover rice/meat: You can use leftover cooked rice or ground turkey in this healthy stuffed pepper soup. You can still add the turkey at the beginning of the process and add the rice in the last few minutes (just enough to warm up in the broth). However, I still recommend simmering the soup broth for forty minutes for the best flavor.
- If you plan on having leftovers, you might prefer to cook and store the rice separately and only add bowls when serving. That way, it won’t become mushy while sitting in the broth.
- Don’t take simmering shortcuts: When doing the stovetop version of this dish, the simmer time allows the flavors to meld. Even when using leftover rice/meat, I don’t recommend reducing the simmer time to below 35-40 minutes for the best flavor. If you do it much less, the tomatoes will taste overly acidic and overpower.
- Fresh herbs: Add the fresh herbs right before serving to the pot. Otherwise, they will “cook”.
I’ve prepared this healthy stuffed pepper soup with white and brown rice (preferring to use the more nutritious brown rice) with no problems. Thus, you could easily swap out the rice to another type – or even use quinoa (reduce cooking time by 15 minutes) and other grains. However, note that whichever you use will impact the simmering time. So check the package instructions and adjust the recipe accordingly.
You could even use minute rice and other ‘quick cook’ rice – cook separately, and then add to the soup at the end.
It’s easy to adjust the texture of this soup. For a thicker stuffed pepper soup, you can remove some of the broth and veggies, use a blender to puree, and then add back to the pot. For a thinner soup, simply add a little more water/broth or reduce the amount of rice added to the soup.
The soup will thicken as it sits (as the rice absorbs liquid) – so you can add a little extra broth when reheating if preferred.
Yes, as mentioned above – it’s easy to swap out the grain. However, note that the simmering time will differ. Check the package instructions to adjust the recipe. You could also use pre-cooked quinoa, adding it to the pot in the last few minutes (just enough to heat up in the broth).
There are a couple of ways to adjust this recipe to become meat-free. The first omits all meat entirely – but I recommend adding some beans/chickpeas for extra protein. Alternatively, you could use the ground meat alternative (or soy curls) of your choice.
- Side salad: Stuffed pepper soup pairs well with a simple green side salad like this lettuce tomato cucumber salad or simple lemony kale salad.
- Bread: Crusty bread (favorites include whole grain or rye bread), flatbread like naan with olive oil dip, garlic bread, or even cornbread.
- Extra veggies: Like broiled asparagus, sauteed zucchini, Instant Pot corn on the cob – and other steamed/roasted, etc. veggies.
Making This Recipe in Advance
Make ahead: As with wine, borscht (and most soups to be honest), this unstuffed pepper soup tastes even better on day two after the flavors have had some time to meld. So feel free to prepare it in advance!
Storing: Allow the soup to cool and then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.
Freeze: Allow the soup to cool completely before transferring to airtight containers or Ziplock bags (portioned). Freeze for up to three months. You can allow the soup to thaw in the fridge or add it to a small covered saucepan over low heat to thaw and reheat.
Note that no matter how you store the leftover stuffed bell pepper soup, the rice will become mushier as it sits in the soup– this is normal.
Reheat: To reheat the pepper soup, I recommend adding your desired amount to a small saucepan or heating in the microwave.
More Favorite Recipes to Try
Stuffed Pepper Soup
- 1 lb ground turkey chicken or beef
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 minced garlic cloves or 2 tsp garlic powder
- 4 large 1.5 lbs bell peppers, chopped
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 1 cup white or brown rice rinsed & drained
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp thyme dried
- 1 1/2 tsp oregano dried
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes low sodium
- 14 oz can tomato sauce low sodium
- 8 cups water or low sodium broth
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup parsley or dill finely chopped
- Preheat large Dutch oven or pot on high heat, swirl oil to coat and add onion, fresh garlic (if using) and ground turkey. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring often and breaking meat into pieces.
- Add bell pepper, celery, rice, thyme, oregano, garlic powder (if not using fresh), salt and pepper. Saute for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, maple syrup, vinegar, bay leaves and bring to a boil covered.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 20 minutes with white rice and 40 minutes if using brown rice.
- Stir and adjust any seasonings to taste. If you have time, let stuffed pepper soup sit covered for 5 minutes.
- Add dill or parsley, stir and serve hot with a dollop of plain yogurt and slice of toasted bread.
Store: Refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat by simmering on low desired amount of soup in a small pot.
Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw on a stovetop covered on low.
- Peppers: Green bell pepper tastes less sweet than orange, yellow or red. I love its addition, if you have it on hand. Mix as you wish or go even all one colour peppers.
- Ground beef : If using ground beef, I recommend to drain the fat. Do so in a city collected compost or garbage to prevent clogging your pipes.
- Not low sodium: If your canned tomatoes and broth are not low sodium, do not add salt and adjust to taste at the end.
- Herbs: Add fresh herbs right before serving to the pot. Otherwise, they will “cook”.
- Slow cooker: Saute ground meat until broken into small pieces on the stove. Then add all ingredients to a crock pot and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours.
- Instant Pot: To make soup in Instant Pot, saute meat first, then add remaining ingredients and cook on High pressure for 15 minutes with Quick Release.
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