Monday, August 11, 2014

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup with Homemade Croutons

I know it's the middle of August, but for some reason, I had the biggest craving for stuffed peppers this week!  I'm not sure if it's because the summer green bell peppers are PERFECT right now, or if packing up my sweaters and coats for my move in 2 short weeks is secretly making me excited for those cool fall days.  What I didn't have time for this week was spending a couple hours at dinner time preparing the peppers, baking them and making a tomato sauce to serve on the side.  So I decided to get creative and turn the dish I've been craving into a crock pot stuffed pepper soup.  All you need is 20 minutes of prep time, 8 hours of daytime activities (like that's hard to find!), and an extra twenty minutes to finish off the dish with homemade croutons and a little salad.  I don't care if it's 80 degrees out, this is just plain old delicious!

I took all of the traditional elements of stuffed peppers - the beef, green bell peppers, garlic, onions - and threw in some extra ingredients to turn it into a broth-based mixture that can cook all day long.  A little beef broth, a little bit of diced tomatoes and sauce, some Italian herbs...perfection.  Instead of just using ground beef, I actually used a mixture of ground beef and ground pork to give a slight sausage flavor to the soup.  You can do all ground beef if that's what you prefer, but I actually like sausage in Italian dishes more than beef because of the southern Italian family recipes we've made at home my whole life!  

I browned the beef and pork mixture over medium heat until it was no longer pink, about 10 minutes, and then drained the grease from the pan.  While the beef cooked, I chopped up the onions, garlic and green peppers to save time.  Tip: make sure you chop the veggies a little larger than you think you might like them, because they get so much smaller in the crockpot cooking for 8 hours!  I made that mistake before, and was sad when the broth had pepper flavors but I couldn't find any bites of pepper because they melted in!

Almost done!  I added the beef mixture, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce (not the jarred kind), beef broth, peppers, garlic, onions to the crock pot, and topped with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and a bit of parmesan cheese to give a creamier texture.  I gave it all a quick stir and got on to my daily activities.  I swear my day was better knowing I had a delicious meal waiting for me at the end of it!

I opened the door to my apartment, and the whole place was filled with this fantastic aroma of roasted peppers, slow cooked meat and Italian herbs.  It was great!  All I had to do was make some rice to add to the pot.  I cooked 1 cup of dry white rice (makes 3 cups cooked) according to package instructions ON THE SIDE.  While the idea of putting it directly into the hot soup seems appealing, you will end up with stuffed pepper gumbo because the rice will absorb every drop of the broth that's been slow cooking all day!  After the rice was done, I added it into the soup and let it cook in the crockpot for another 15 minutes to let some of the starches blend into the mixture.  It thickens the broth a bit too!

This is optional, but highly recommended: in this 15 minutes, you can make homemade croutons to put on top. Nommmm.  Just take 1/4 of a baguette, preferably a day or two old, and cut it up into 1" cubes.  I kind of like larger croutons when I put it into soup so they don't disintegrate in the broth.  Put them in a larger ziploc bag (even one of the bags you put fruit in at the grocery store that usually gets thrown away) and drizzle in a tablespoon of olive oil, a dash of salt, and a healthy dash of garlic powder, oregano and basil.  Shake it all together in the bag, and drop it on a baking sheet.  Double check to make sure all the bread is covered partially in olive oil, and add a little extra to pieces that seem dry.  Pop these in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes, and they're ready to go!

I served up the stuffed pepper soup in a bowl, topped it with croutons and parmesan cheese for a tasty garnish, and served it with spinach salad on the side.  Me and Howie definitely approved of the new recipe!  Buon appetito!


  1. Man o man this looks super delicious. The picture makes me wanna grab a bite off it. Im surely gonna try this one out tomorrow. Too many foodies here

  2. I am feeling hungry now after looking the images of the dish. Slow cooker recipes are usually very tasty. But serving also matters.


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