Vegan cream of red pepper soup

May 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Miso, Quick weeknight recipe, Ron Pickarski, soup, Soymilk)

This is another recipe from Ron Pickarski’s cookbook Friendly Foods.  It gets its creamy texture from olive oil, soymilk, and pureed potato rather than cream. Pickarski also adds miso for extra umami flavor.

Ingredients (doubled recipe, with modifications):

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil (originally 4 Tbs.)
  • 2 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (originally medium)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced potato
  • 1 tsp. whole rosemary
  • 1 tsp. whole fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper (originally scant 1/4 tsp. white pepper)
  • 3 cups soy milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 – 4 Tbs. miso (originally 4 Tbs. white miso)
  • 1 cup julienned carrots (optional)
  • 4 tsp. chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a 4- to 5-quart saucepan.  Saute all of the vegetables, along with the seasonings, on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the soy milk and water.  Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.
  2. Add the miso directly into the soup.  Puree the soup in a blender until smooth.  Pour the soup back into the saucepan, add the carrots, and cook at a medium heat for an additional 5 minutes.  Serve hot, garnished with parsley.
My notes:

Above is the doubled recipe, with some modifications, but the first time I made it I made it as written in the cookbooks (see notes above).  The original is a quite small recipe.  Pickarski says it makes 2 to 4 servings.  I think it made about 1 quart of soup total.  I used a 2 quart saucepan, but I had a lot of trouble because whenever I put the lid on the pan the soymilk kept foaming up and boiling over.  So either watch it very, very carefully or use a larger pot. Actually, I think I would just double this recipe and use a 4-quart pot next time.

I didn’t have any dried rosemary so I used a little fresh rosemary.  I couldn’t identify the rosemary or fennel in the final soup, but the paprika gave it a lovely red color.  Pickarski says you can also use yellow pepper instead of red bell pepper, but then I think the paprika would muddy the color rather than enhancing it.

Overall I thought the flavor was quite good.  I didn’t have white miso so used only 1 Tbs. of red miso, which was plenty.  The soup was salty enough and quite rich tasting.  Next time I might actually cut the oil in half.  And I would either cut the salt out or only use 1 Tbs. of miso.

I liked the julienned carrots in the creamy soup.  They added some interesting texture.  But I don’t think they’re necessary.

Rating: B/B+
Derek: B+

Update October 2012:

I made this soup again except that I doubled the recipe (as shown above), and cut the oil down slightly (from 4 to 3 Tbs.)  The soup tasted rich enough.  Again I didn’t have dried rosemary so through in a stalk of fresh rosemary, and fished it out before pureeing.  I used the full teaspoon of salt and 3 Tbs. of a red miso, and the soup was too salty.  I skipped the carrots and parsley this time.

After simmering for 20 minutes my soymilk had curdled, or at least it had separated into water and grainy curdled-looking bits.  But once I pureed the soup you couldn’t tell, and it tasted fine.  I used a stick blender to blend the soup, and it didn’t do a great job on the fennel seeds.  Also I occasionally got a few stringy bits from some vegetable (the celery? the rosemary leaves that fell off the stalk?).  Perhaps it’s best to use a proper blender or food processor.

Overall I liked the recipe.  It doesn’t shout red peppers, but it’s a nice comforting slightly sweet and yet very umami soup.

The doubled recipe made almost 6.5 cups, so about four 1.5 cup servings.

Update November 2012:

I made this soup again except I didn’t have nearly enough bell peppers so I added diced fennel as well.  It turned out pretty well, considering that I changed a number of other details as well.  It’s clearly an accommodating recipe.


  1. austingardener said,

    Personally I would just cook the soup with the water and them add the soymilk at the end just to heat it up. In my experience soymilk does not like to be heated over 185 degrees and definitely doesn’t like to be boile.

    • captious said,

      Probably a good suggestion. I wonder if it would be as flavorful though?

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