What is Pepper Pot Soup?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Bell peppers are often used in pepper pot soup.
Bell peppers are often used in pepper pot soup.

The term pepper pot soup is used to describe two regional soups, one from the American Northeast and another from the Creole community in the American South and Caribbean. Both soups have distinct flavors and lengthy histories which make them regional favorites. Both types are also very easy to prepare at home, and can be a good choice for the winter months, since the long stewing will heat the house, while the peppery flavor will clear out any clogged sinuses.

Creole pepper pot soup often includes okra.
Creole pepper pot soup often includes okra.

The version of this soup which is prepared in the American Northeast is sometimes known as Philadelphia pepper pot soup, referencing a city where it is particularly popular. This soup has been prepared since the Colonial era, and it features tripe as a star ingredient, stewed with vegetables and pepper in a rich broth. The soup utilizes offal and root vegetables to their best advantage, which would have made it a useful soup for people living in poverty in the Colonial era, and apparently people acquired a taste for it, since this soup can be seen on many regional menus.

Cooks may use yams in pepper pot soup.
Cooks may use yams in pepper pot soup.

The Creole pepper pot soup is quite different. The star ingredient of this soup is a dark green leafy vegetable, seasoned with garlic, scallions, thyme, and a hot pepper such as a Scotch bonnet. Most cooks also add in an assortment of available vegetables and meats, so the soup may include things like yams, crab, tomatoes, carrots, ham, and okra, among other things. This soup tends to be quite spicy, and it may be tempered with a rich broth and plenty of bell peppers.

Carrots are sometimes used in pepper pot soup.
Carrots are sometimes used in pepper pot soup.

Creole pepper pot soup is sometimes called “callaloo,” a reference to the dark green leafy vegetable which is involved in its preparation. “Callaloo” means “amaranth” in Jamaica, and amaranth is a popular choice of vegetable for this soup, although cooks can also use kale, chard, spinach, taro leaves, and a variety of other greens. This soup's origins lie in Africa, where such stews are common, and it reflects a blend of the Old World and the New which was common on many plantations in the American South and Caribbean.

Crab can be one ingredient in pepper pot soup.
Crab can be one ingredient in pepper pot soup.

In some regions, callaloo is actually a side dish of stewed greens which is served along with foods like cornbread, roast ham, rice, and so forth. Depending on regional tastes, the callaloo may be heavily spiced, or seasoned with ingredients like ham to make the flavor more complex. Generally the callaloo under discussion is clear from the context.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

anon329906

@turkay1: Tripe needs to be scraped and cleaned before cooking, so having your butcher cut it into pieces isn't a good idea. It's not hard to clean, but it is essential, and cutting it yourself only takes a few minutes.

candyquilt

@literally45-- Tripe is the stomach lining of cattle. But don't let that put you off. When it's cooked in Philadelphia pepper pot soup, it tastes just like meat and absorbs all the lovely smells from the vegetables.

You can get tripe from butcher's shops. They can also cut it up for you for the soup so that you don't have to deal with it at home. I don't know why people shy away from the Philadelphia version of this soup because of the tripe. I can't imagine pepper pot soup without tripe, it's the best ingredient.

literally45

What's tripe? Where can I find it?

I really like spicy foods and this sounds really good.

bear78

@pharmchick78-- You can definitely make this soup vegetarian. In fact, I think it would be an ideal vegetarian dish because it contains so many different ingredients. It has a lot of flavor.

I don't know about meat alternatives, you can just leave the meat out and incorporate as many of the vegetables listed here as possible. If you have any other vegetables at home, you can add those in there too. I'm sure it will be really good.

anon149029

Pepper pot soup is still made in Canada for Campbells.

anon138494

Campbell's discontinued Pepper Pot Soup.

anon124199

Please, where can I find Campbell's Pepper Pot soup? I need it as an ingredient in a special recipie.

pharmchick78

Is it possible to make vegetarian pepper pot soup?

It sounds really tasty, but my boyfriend is a vegetarian -- are there any substitutes you can use for the meat?

closerfan12

Did you know that there's a Campbell's pepper pot soup?

I've never tried it, but I think it's made in the more northern style -- there's tripe involved.

I'm not sure how I'd feel about canned tripe...

TunaLine

My gram was big into homemade soup, and she had the best pepper pot soup recipe.

We're from Louisiana, so no innards are involved, but here's her fail proof Jamaican pepper pot soup recipe:

Take a chicken and one pig's foot and about one and a half pounds of pork tenderloin, chop both into chunks.

Boil the chicken and pig foot for about an hour at a low heat, then add in the tenderloin, along with an onion, a chili pepper (no seeds), a clove or two, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, a stick of cinnamon, and a fourth a cup of cassareep.

Skim the top periodically for fat while you boil it for another hour, then take out the cloves and cinnamon and toss them.

You'll end up with a tasty and healthy soup!

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    • Bell peppers are often used in pepper pot soup.
      By: Natika
      Bell peppers are often used in pepper pot soup.
    • Creole pepper pot soup often includes okra.
      By: s4sanchita
      Creole pepper pot soup often includes okra.
    • Cooks may use yams in pepper pot soup.
      By: sommai
      Cooks may use yams in pepper pot soup.
    • Carrots are sometimes used in pepper pot soup.
      By: Dionisvera
      Carrots are sometimes used in pepper pot soup.
    • Crab can be one ingredient in pepper pot soup.
      By: Natika
      Crab can be one ingredient in pepper pot soup.
    • Pepper pot soup contains leafy green vegetables.
      By: rimglow
      Pepper pot soup contains leafy green vegetables.
    • Offal is often used in pepper pot soup.
      Offal is often used in pepper pot soup.
    • Kale can be used in Creole pepper pot soup.
      By: silencefoto
      Kale can be used in Creole pepper pot soup.
    • Chard can be used in a Creole pepper pot soup.
      By: Quanthem
      Chard can be used in a Creole pepper pot soup.
    • Tripe may be featured in pepper pot soup.
      By: uckyo
      Tripe may be featured in pepper pot soup.