Stuffed Pepper Soup

This Stuffed Pepper Soup recipe is hearty, satisfying and astonishingly easy all made in one pot in less than 30 minutes!

This Stuffed Pepper Soup delivers all the comforting flavors and textures of Italian stuffed peppers in easy, one pot soup form!  It’s an unapologetic explosion of YUM with the textural rice, juicy Italian sausage and sweet and earthy bell peppers in a zesty, tomato-based broth bolstered with Italian seasonings, mingling with optional melty pools of mozzarella.  This fast-cooking soup is also super versatile, amendable to whatever veggies you have on hand, uncooked or leftover rice, and ground turkey, beef or sausage.  Serve this Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup up with homemade Caesar Salad and some garlic bread for the perfect feast.

This Stuffed Pepper Soup joins a long list of my favorite Italian soup recipes! If you love hearty Italian soups, don’t miss Zuppa Toscana, Lasagna Soup, White Chicken Lasagna Soup,  Chicken Gnocchi Soup, Minestrone SoupTomato Basil Soup, Italian Beef and Vegetable Soup, Italian Wedding Soup and Sausage Tortellini Soup.  

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HOW TO MAKE stuffed pepper SOUP RECIPE VIDEO

showing how cheesy stuffed pepper soup is by pulling a ladle out of the pot with stringy mozzarella

STUFFED PEPPER soup RECIPE

If you’ve never had the pleasure of sinking your teeth into Italian Stuffed Peppers before, now is your chance with this easier Stuffed Pepper Soup!  It celebrates everything you love about the classic recipe without the steaming or stuffing! 

This recipe elevates pantry staples to cozy, warming new heights.   This Stuffed Pepper Soup is a hypnotic blend of Italian sausage, sautéed minced onion, garlic, bell peppers, crushed tomatoes, and rice swimming in the herb laced broth. This soup is elevated further by stirring Parmesan cheese and fresh basil directly into the broth with a crescendo of buttery, creamy mozzarella. Every spoonful of this Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup is a warm, aromatic, textural symphony that will have everyone coming back for an encore of seconds and thirds.

It’s an easy 30-minute one pot soup. My goal with this Stuffed Pepper Soup recipe was to make it as quick and easy as possible.  So, instead of cooking the rice separately, like many recipes, the rice cooks directly in the soup in less than 15 minutes!  To make the soup, you literally just brown the sausage and onions then dump the rest of the ingredients to simmer altogether -winning!

This Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup is a meal-in-one chock full of protein, veggies and starch.  Just add some no-fuss sides like a simple green salad and crusty bread and dinner is served!  It’s the perfect easy dinner for any night of the week.

You will also love that this recipe is super adaptable.  You can swap the sausage for ground beef, turkey or chicken and the veggies for your favs or whatever you have on hand. You can keep it lighter sans mozzarella or pile on the cheesy bliss.  

up close of ladle of stuffed pepper soup with sausage and bell peppers

RECIPE INGREDIENTS

This Stuffed Pepper Soup recipe is made with accessible pantry friendly ingredients that combine to create magic.  They key to success is to build layers of flavor by first browning the sausage with the onions then sautéing the aromatic garlic before adding the broth, then finishing it all off with fresh Parmesan.  To make this easy recipe, you will need:

  • Italian sausage:  I highly suggest using Italian sausage and not just ground beef because you get meat + flavor.  Italian sausage is pre-seasoned with Italian seasonings, including fennel.  Fennel is crucial for authentic Italian flavor so if you skip the Italian sausage, make sure you add some fennel to your filling.
  • Rice:  Please use long grain white rice.  I used long grain jasmine rice and it was the perfect texture. The rice cooks in about 12 minutes in the simmering broth and won’t become mushy.  You may use brown rice if you cook it separately or you may cook it directly in the soup with increased broth and hold the bell peppers until later because brown rice can take up to 45 minutes to simmer (see variations).
  • Bell Peppers:  One red bell pepper for its sweetness and one green bell pepper for its grassy earthiness.  Chop the bell peppers into ½-inch squares so they don’t become too soft.  
  • Onions: One yellow onion please.  Yellow onions are generally the best cooking onion for their strong but mild flavor and caramelizing sweetness.  You may also substitute with 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder.
  • Garlic:  I use 6 garlic cloves but you can use more or less depending on your garlic love.  You may substitute with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Crushed tomatoes:  You will need one 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (often called crushed tomatoes in puree). Take care your crushed tomatoes don’t have any additional seasonings or added salt.   The crushed tomatoes add texture and of course our full-bodied tomato flavor.  I recommend the brands San Marzano, Cento and Muir Glen.  San Marzano tomatoes are usually sold “whole” so you will want to pour them into a bowl and crush them with your hands first.
  • Fire roasted diced tomatoes:  Tomatoes that have been roasted which gives them a complex smokiness and removes the acidic bite.   Fire roasted tomatoes are located next to the traditional diced tomatoes – just make sure you purchase the ones without any added seasonings. You can use plain diced tomatoes if you can’t locate fire roasted.
  • Herbs:  Fresh basil and fresh parsley really make the flavors pop but you may substitute with dried herbs without any problems.
  • Seasonings:  In addition to the aromatic onions, garlic, basil and parsley, the recipe is seasoned with red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.  I love the addition of red pepper flakes for just the right kick that really make all the flavors come alive. If you aren’t sure how much you want to add, then start with less and you can add more to taste at the end of cooking.
  • Beef broth:  Adds a rich, beefy complexity.  Use low sodium beef broth so it isn’t too salty.
  • Parmesan:  Infuses you’re the soup with its alluring salty, nutty flavor.
  • Mozzarella: Is creamy, buttery and melts beautifully.  It’s milky richness cuts through the zesty tomato broth.  The pictures show the mozzarella added directly to the soup pot (for aesthetics), but I suggest adding it to individual bowls so it doesn’t get lost.
showing how to serve stuffed bell pepper soup with two hands holding a bowl with mozzarella melted on top

HOW TO MAKE stuffed pepper SOUP

You are going to love how easy this Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup is to make!  Most of the work involves chopping the bell peppers, onions and garlic (I just use my vegetable chopper for the onion and my garlic press for the garlic) and the rest is hands-off simmering.  Let’s take a closer look below with step-by-step photos or you can watch the “How to Make Stuffed Pepper Soup” video in the recipe card.  For exact measurements, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post:

  • Step 1: Brown the Sausage.  Brown the sausage and onions in a large Dutch oven until it’s about 75% cooked through. Add the bell peppers, garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook until the meat is cooked through and onions are tender.  At this point, I like to drain any excess grease.
showing how to make stuffed pepper soup recipe by browning Italian sausage, onions, garlic and bell peppers together in a large Dutch oven
  • Step 2:  Add all soup ingredients.  Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, uncooked rice, basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and beef broth.
Showing how to make Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup recipe by adding crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, rice, basil, parsley, oregano and beef broth to the sausage and bell peppers in a soup pot
  • Step 3:  Simmer the soup.  Cover the soup and simmer for about 8-12 minutes or until the rice is al dente. The clock starts once the rice starts to boil and then you’ll turn the pot down to low and continue to simmer.  
showing how to make stuffed pepper soup recipe by simmering the soup until the rice is tender
  • Step 4:  Add Parmesan.  Stir in Parmesan cheese and thin soup if you’d like it less thick.
showing how to make stuffed pepper soup by stirring Parmesan into the cooked soup
  • Step 5: Add mozzarella.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with freshly shredded mozzarella.  Dig in!  
top view of stuffed pepper soup recipe showing the rice and sausage and bell peppers

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR BEST stuffed bell pepper soup recipe

This Stuffed Pepper Soup recipe is pretty straightforward, but here are some helpful tricks and tips for the best soup every time:

  • Use hot Italian sausage. This recipe will work with ground beef, turkey or chicken, but it doesn’t get any better than juicy, flavorful sausage.  The “hot” doesn’t make the soup spicy.
  • Don’t chop the bell peppers too small.   Avoid chopping them any smaller than ½-inch or they can become mushy.
  • Shred cheeses yourself.  Don’t use the powdered or pre-shredded Parmesan cheese or pre-shredded mozzarella.  Always avoid pre-shredded bagged cheeses because the cheese is coated in anti-clumping chemicals used to prevent the strands from clumping together in the bag.  These same chemicals inhibit the cheese from melting beautifully.   
  • Rice cooking time will vary.  The cooking time may vary depending on your exact rice, soup pot and how long it takes to bring your soup to a boil so I suggest checking the rice occasionally until done.
  • Don’t overcook the rice.  You don’t want to overcook the rice because it will continue to cook slightly in the hot pot and soup bowls. If it’s not initially overcooked, it will stay pleasantly textured and not become mushy even when reheated.
  • Cook rice separately if needed:  As written, the rice cooks in same the pot with the sausage and bell peppers. If you aren’t prepared to babysit your rice or add extra broth to leftovers, then cook your rice separately and add to individual bowls.  Start with 4 cups broth instead of 6.  
  • Adjust the consistency as needed.  As written, this recipe is on the chunky side.  For a less chunky soup, simply add additional broth at the end of cooking.
  • Be prepared to add additional liquid.  The rice will absorb the broth as it sits in the soup so you may need to add additional broth immediately before serving and definitely when reheating leftovers.
  • Scale the recipe.  You can halve this recipe if you don’t have a large family and don’t want leftovers.  If you do love leftovers (raising my hand high), then you will love leftovers for an easy lunch or dinner! To scale the recipe, use the slider that appears when you hover over the servings in the recipe card.
a ladle of stuffed pepper soup recipe with red and green bell peppers, Italian sausage and rice

 WHAT CAN I PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME?

This Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup is very simple but it does require some prep work as far as chopping vegetables. You can save time by: 

  • Veggies and aromatics: Chop the bell peppers, onions, and mince the garlic up to a couple days ahead of time, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 
  • Measure Spices: It doesn’t take long to measure out the spices, but you can certainly do it beforehand and store the mix in an airtight bag or container. You can also chop the fresh herbs and refrigerate them in an airtight container.
  • Cheeses: The mozzarella can be shredded and the Parmesan can be freshly grated and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

possible RECIPE VARIATIONS

This Stuffed Pepper Soup recipe boasts a hypnotic, textural, tomato, infused broth which means it is a fabulous springboard to make it your own with add-ins or whatever you have on hand:

  • Leftover rice:  Stir 2 ¼ cups leftover cooked rice directly into the soup after simmering and warm through. Start with only 4 cups broth (because broth isn’t soaked up by the rice or evaporated when simmering) and add more as needed.  
  • Brown rice:  Can be used but will take 40-50 minutes to simmer, so be prepared to add additional broth.  Add the bell peppers the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  • Ground beef: Swap the Italian sausage with lean ground beef and season with ½ teaspoon dried fennel and additional red pepper flakes and Italian seasonings as needed at the end of cooking.
  • Turkey:  Ground turkey or ground chicken can also be used instead of Italian sausage.  Season as above with ½ teaspoon dried fennel and red pepper flakes and Italian seasonings to taste.  I also like to add an additional 1 teaspoon beef bouillon for extra beefy flavor.  If you add bouillon, then reduce the salt then add salt to taste.
  • Beef base: Instead of using beef broth, you may use 2 tablespoons beef base such as Zoup! (my favorite), Better Than Bouillon, bouillon cubes or granulated bouillon. If using beef base, omit the salt and add salt to taste.
  • Other proteins:  Try sliced sausage, ham or shredded rotisserie chicken.  Ham can be quite salty so omit the salt in the recipe and add salt to taste.
  • Meatballs:  Add mini meatballs to cook directly in the broth like in Italian wedding soup.
  • Add beans:  Add cannellini beans for their slight sweetness, creaminess and meaty texture. 
  • Add veggies: Add any additional veggies you’d like such as mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, eggplant, corn, green beans, or spinach.  You can also stir roasted veggies such as roasted broccoli, roasted cauliflower or zucchini into the soup at the end of cooking.  Add additional broth as needed to compensate for the vegetables.
  • Cheeses:  Swap the blanket of mozzarella for provolone, cheddar, fontina, Gruyere etc. to mix up the flavor profile.
  • Make it vegetarian:  Use vegetable broth and replace the Italian sausage with mashed tofu, diced mushrooms, white beans or plant-based ground “meat.”  Be ready to season with additional red pepper flakes, salt and Italian seasonings which will be missed from the sausage.
a ladle of stuffed pepper soup recipe with red and green bell peppers, Italian sausage and rice

WHAT TO SERVE WITH stuffed bell pepper SOUP?

This Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup is a meal-in-one complete with protein, veggies and starch, so you can call it dinner done or serve it with any of these additional sides:

How long does stuffed pepper soup last in the fridge?

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup will last about 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Be aware that the rice will continue to absorb the broth as it sits.  The soup is still tasty and the rice doesn’t become mushy (as long as it’s not initially overcooked), but you’ll need to add additional broth or water to thin leftovers when reheating. 

If you’re making this soup specifically for meal planning to serve throughout the week, you may want to cook the rice separately, store it separately and add to portions before reheating.

pulling up a spoonful of stuffed bell pepper soup showing how cheesy it is

CAN YOU FREEZE stuffed pepper SOUP?

Stuffed Pepper Soup can be frozen, however, it does not freeze well with white rice (becomes mushy).  If you’d like to freeze the soup, omit the rice and add cooked rice when reheating. The bell peppers will also soften somewhat in texture.    

HOW TO reheat this recipe

The rice will absorb much of the liquid as it’s stored, so be prepare to add additional broth or water as needed.

  • Storage:  Let the soup cool to room temperature, cover and store in your Dutch oven or transfer to an airtight container.  Refrigerate for up to 4-5 days.
  • Stove: Reheat large batches on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until warmed through, adding additional broth/water as needed.
  • Microwave: For smaller batches or individual servings, transfer soup to a microwave-safe dish and stir in additional broth/water as needed.  Cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

How much rice does one cup of uncooked rice make?

One cup of uncooked long grain rice will make about 3 cups of cooked rice.  This recipe calls for ¾ cups uncooked rice so if you plan on using cooked rice, you will need will need 2 ¼ cups cooked brown or white rice.

Could I substitute the ground beef?

Ground sausage, ground turkey and ground chicken can all be used. For vegetarian and vegan options, you can swap in mashed tofu, diced mushrooms, white beans or plant-based ground meat substitutes.

Can I use red or yellow pepper instead of green?

The red bell pepper adds the sweetness and the green bell pepper adds the earthiness, so I like using one of each.  If you don’t have a green bell pepper, use whatever you have on hand.

Can I use vegetable broth instead?

I do not recommend vegetable broth because it’s not as flavorful as beef broth.  That doesn’t mean you can’t use vegetable broth, but it does mean the soup will not taste as flavorful. It is better to use low sodium chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.

Is this soup gluten free?

Yes, this recipe is gluten free.

a bowl of stuffed pepper soup recipe garnished with mozzarella and fresh basil

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a ladle of stuffed pepper soup recipe with red and green bell peppers, Italian sausage and rice

Stuffed Pepper Soup

This Stuffed Pepper Soup delivers all the comforting flavors and textures of Italian stuffed peppers in easy, one pot soup form!  It’s an unapologetic explosion of YUM with the textural rice, juicy Italian sausage and sweet and earthy bell peppers in a zesty, tomato-based broth bolstered with Italian seasonings, mingling with optional melty pools of mozzarella.  This fast-cooking soup is also super versatile, amendable to whatever veggies you have on hand, uncooked or leftover rice, and ground turkey, beef or sausage.  Serve this Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup up with homemade Caesar Salad and some garlic bread for the perfect feast.
Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. hot Italian sausage (may sub lean ground beef/turkey – see notes)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (or half large)
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1/2-inch chop
  • 1 green bell pepper, 1/2-inch chop
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, no salt/seasonings added
  • 1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain white rice, (see notes for options)
  • 1 TBS EACH fresh chopped basil, oregano, parsley (or 1 tsp EACH dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cups low sodium beef broth

ADD LATER

  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly shredded mozzarella for serving

Instructions

  • Heat a large soup pot/Dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown sausage and onions for 4 minutes, while breaking up sausage. Add bell peppers, garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté an additional 2-3 minutes or until meat is cooked through and onions are tender. Dain grease.
  • Add all remaining soup ingredients except cheeses.
  • Cover the soup and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to LOW and continue to simmer, covered, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid for 8-12 minutes or until rice is cooked. ***NOTE: Cooking time may vary depending on your rice and how long it takes to bring your soup to a boil so I suggest checking the rice occasionally until done.
  • Stir in Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste (I add a pinch more salt). Stir in additional broth if desired for a thinner soup.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and top with freshly shredded mozzarella. Dig in!

Video

Notes

RECIPE VARIATIONS

  • Leftover/cooked rice: Simmer the soup as instructed but start with only 4 cups broth (because broth isn’t soaked up by the uncooked rice or evaporated when simmering).  Stir in 2 ¼ cups cooked rice after simmering and warm through or add rice to individual servings.
  • Brown rice:  Uncooked brown rice can be used but will take 40-50 minutes to simmer, so be prepared to add additional broth. Add the bell peppers the last 15 minutes of cooking.  You can also cook the brown rice separately in your rice cooker and add it to the soup (see above “cooked rice.”)
  • Ground beef: Swap the Italian sausage with lean ground beef and season with ½ teaspoon dried fennel and additional red pepper flakes and Italian seasonings as needed at the end of cooking.
  • Turkey:  Ground turkey or ground chicken can also be used instead of Italian sausage.  Season as above with ½ teaspoon dried fennel and red pepper flakes and Italian seasonings to taste.  I also like to add an additional 1 teaspoon beef bouillon for extra beefy flavor.  If you add bouillon, then reduce the salt then add salt to taste.
  • Beef base: Instead of using beef broth, you may use 2 tablespoons beef base such as Zoup! (my favorite), Better Than Bouillon, bouillon cubes or granulated bouillon. If using beef base, omit the salt and add salt to taste.
  • Vegetarian:  Use vegetable broth and replace the Italian sausage with mashed tofu, diced mushrooms, white beans or plant-based ground “meat.”  Be ready to season with additional red pepper flakes, salt and Italian seasonings which will be missed from the sausage.

How to store

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup will last about 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Be aware that the rice will continue to absorb the broth as it sits.  The soup is still tasty and the rice doesn’t become mushy (as long as it’s not initially overcooked), but you’ll need to add additional broth or water to thin leftovers when reheating. 
If you’re making this soup specifically for meal planning to serve throughout the week, you may want to cook the rice separately, store it separately and add to portions before reheating.

how to freeze

Stuffed Pepper Soup can be frozen, however, it does not freeze well with white rice (becomes mushy).  If you’d like to freeze the soup, omit the rice and add cooked rice when reheating. The bell peppers will also soften somewhat in texture.    

HOW TO REHEAT

The rice will absorb much of the liquid as it’s stored, so be prepare to add additional broth or water as needed.
  • Stove: Reheat large batches on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally until warmed through, adding additional broth/water as needed.
  • Microwave: For smaller batches or individual servings, transfer soup to a microwave-safe dish and stir in additional broth/water as needed.  Cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.

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8 Comments

  1. Nina says

    I made this tonight and it was great and I don’t even really like stuffed peppers! I used ground chicken with the beef bouillon and added spices and didn’t miss the sausage at all. I also used leftover rice with the 4 cups of broth as suggested. Great way to clean out the fridge and have new leftovers. I really appreciate all the recipe notes and suggestions for modifications and substitutions. I’m sure it is a lot more work so thank you!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for being the first to review this recipe Nina! I’m so pleased you were able to make it with the variations/substitutions and it turned out great. Your comment makes the extra time worth it- just happy they are helpful :)!

  2. Sue Olsen says

    Made this today…the Stuffed Pepper Soup and it is soooo good…Thank you for working so hard at cooking so we don’t have to…lol..Love your recipes!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for making them Sue and for taking the time to comment! I’m so pleased this was a hit!

  3. Linda says

    I made this with left over stuff peppers,chop up peppers added a carton of beef broth,can of dice tomatos,the peppers already had everything else that your recipe had,it was delicious.

    • Jen says

      What a great use of leftovers! I’m so pleased it turned out so well!

  4. Christine says

    How much cooked quinoa would you use?

    • Jen says

      I would also use 3/4 cup. Enjoy!

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