Smoky Tomato & Red Pepper Soup with White Beans

September 30, 2020
17 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Gerri Williams.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

I love all kinds of tomato soup, but this creamy, flavor-packed rendition full of Spanish vibes is my absolute favorite. A few simple tricks make it really good (and a cinch to make!): reaching for top-quality canned tomatoes, using both fresh red bell pepper and roasted (from a jar) to layer and deepen the flavors, and adding sherry vinegar after sauteing the aromatics and letting it cook off (similar to wine)—a tip I picked up from Michael Anthony’s The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook that adds so much verve and complexity.

But my favorite trick? Adding white beans to make the soup lusciously creamy without any dairy. I developed the recipe using a standard-sized can of cannellini beans: 1 cup is simmered and blended into the soup, and then the rest are crisped-up in olive oil, dusted with smoked paprika, and used as a garnish (along with snipped chives).

A few tips and notes: if you have garden-fresh tomatoes, by all means use them in place of the canned tomatoes. Same for the red peppers; freshly roasted peppers can be used in place of jarred. As for the crispy white bean garnish, feel free to play around with the accoutrements. Use basil, parsley, tarragon, or cilantro in place of the chives, toast a handful of almonds or croutons alongside the white beans, or pile-on some chopped cured ham or crispy bacon for any meat eaters at your table. —EmilyC

What You'll Need
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch granulated sugar (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1 28-ounce can good-quality whole tomatoes, such as San Marzano, juice reserved
  • 1 10-ounce jar roasted red peppers or piquillo peppers, drained
  • 1 3/4 cups cooked white beans (from one 15.5-ounce can), drained and rinsed, divided
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (or more to thin, as needed)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped chives, for serving
  1. Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, red bell pepper, garlic, salt, and a few big pinches of pepper. Sauté for about 6 minutes, until softened.
  2. Add sherry vinegar, and cook, stirring constantly, until most of it has evaporated, about one minute.
  3. Add 1 cup white beans, tomatoes (and juices), roasted red peppers, vegetable stock, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for about 15 minutes, lowering heat, if needed, to maintain a simmer.
  4. Meanwhile, in a skillet, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup white beans and 1/4 teaspoon paprika, stirring to evenly coat the beans in the paprika. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the beans are lightly browned and crisp.
  5. When soup is done, blend it in batches until smooth. Add salt, to taste, and a little more sherry vinegar and/or a pinch of sugar, if needed, to balance the flavors.
  6. Divide soup into bowls, and top with a spoonful of the white beans and chopped chives.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Janine
  • Megan
  • tastysweet
  • EmilyC
  • cholula

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

22 Reviews

Jen March 29, 2022
This was incredible. I left out the large can of tomatoes & subbed a pint of fresh yellow cherry tomatoes. I roasted them for about 5 min untouched with the rest of the vegetables. The beans add incredible consistency after using the immersion blender to bring it all together
lwilliamson December 13, 2021
Absolutely delicious! And it came together so quickly. I used my immersion blender to finish it off. This will definitely be added into my regular rotation!
Margaret C. November 3, 2021
Made this today for lunch and it was hit. I love the smoky notes from the paprika.
Janine December 9, 2020
This was easy to throw together last night and I have plenty of leftovers. Next time I'd make sure to crush the whole tomatoes up a bit before adding them, as well as chopping up the roasted red peppers beforehand since the size made blending it with an immersion blender take a smidge longer. Also I'll be making more of those cripsy white beans for on top; if you're wondering if they're worth the extra effort, they most definitely are.
EmilyC December 10, 2020
Thanks for trying this and your note, Janine! I completely agree on the white beans. : )
Cindy A. October 25, 2020
Very easy to make, and truly delicious! Hearty consistency, and a complex flavor that reminded us of Middle Eastern Ajvar with the roasted red peppers. This soup will be in the regular rotation from now on.
EmilyC October 27, 2020
Wonderful! Thanks Cindy!
lulubean October 21, 2020
Made this for my tomato soup loving spouse and it received two thumbs up and a request for more... I followed the suggestion to crisp up some bacon with the beans (yes) but didn't have any soft herbs on hand for the garnish. I wouldn't say it was missing something without the herbs, but I can see how they would give a really nice finishing touch. I love the idea of making this in a crockpot so I'll try that out next time!
EmilyC October 27, 2020
So happy that you tried and liked this, lulubean! Thanks for your feedback!
Megan October 19, 2020
I made this without the crispy beans on top (which sound amazing... but not in the cards for me today) and it is really good. So easy to make! I left it a little chunky and liked it that way. Another keeper!
EmilyC October 19, 2020
Yay, so glad to hear this, Megan! Thanks so much for trying this and circling back!
David K. October 10, 2020
I made this earlier this week for the family and we all were blown away by its light yet hearty flavor. I wasn't going to have time to make it just before dinner, so at lunchtime I sautéed the onions, garlic, and pepper, poured that and everything else into the crock pot, and cooked on low for about 6 hours, and used the immersion bkender to smooth it all out. It came out perfect AND made the house smell wonderful all afternoon. I added a dollop of plain Greek yogurt along with the sautéed beans and chives. This was a hit at our house!
EmilyC October 12, 2020
What a great idea to use a crock pot here to fit your schedule! So glad you liked the soup -- thanks, David, for your note!
meme S. October 4, 2020
To Tastysweet -- Sure if that's what you have on hand, you can use either beans as long as they are good quality, drained and rinsed. The soup will be just as good and healthy. Bonne chance and Eat Hardy!
tastysweet October 4, 2020
Thank you.
tastysweet October 4, 2020
Will do👍
tastysweet October 4, 2020
Going to make this tomorrow. Are Garbanzo beans ok. I have those and navy beans.
EmilyC October 4, 2020
Ditto to what meme wrote above! I'd lean slightly towards the garbanzo beans because they'll crisp up really nicely.
tastysweet October 4, 2020
Thought so too.
meme S. October 4, 2020
5* rating

Love this creaming Spanish flair soup! Used to prepare a similar Soup years ago. The taste is out of this word! My only additions were a pinch of Mediterranean dyed mixed herbs and red hot pepper for extra taste and a kick! Always a crowd pleaser! Thank you Emily C., and Food52 for adding this favorite soup to your repertoire!
EmilyC October 4, 2020
Thanks meme -- so glad you tried and liked this!
cholula December 30, 2020
We think alike. First time I have made this soup. I added two small jalapenos with the vegetables to cook. It did have a kick haha....I added more broth and it turned out great. Can't wait for grilled cheese sandwich and this soup.