Yellow Bell Pepper and Serrano Chili Soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    4 to 6


Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

All my life I have had a fondness for dishes made with sweet green peppers. I considered it a blessing when, a few short years ago, peppers of various colors came on the market. One of my favorite soups, given to me by a friend in Dallas, is made with sweet yellow pepper (the red version may be substituted) combined with serrano chilies.


  • 1 pound sweet peppers, preferably yellow
  • 1 tablespoon corn, peanut, or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped celery
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped carrots
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock or canned chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3⅓ cups heavy cream
  • 5 serrano chilies (about 1 ounce)
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt to taste, if desired
  • 12 sprigs fresh coriander
  • teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Place the peppers over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler. Turn often until the peppers are charred all over. Remove and let cool.
  2. Heat the oil in a kettle or casserole and add the onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring, over moderately high heat until the onions are wilted and the vegetables start to brown.
  3. Add the thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf and stir. Add the stock or broth and cook about 20 minutes, or until reduced to about cups.
  4. Blend the butter and flour and add to the boiling liquid, stirring rapidly with a wire whisk. Simmer the mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add 3 cups cream and continue cooking over relatively high heat for about 20 minutes. Place a sieve, preferably a chinois, over a bowl. Pour the mixture into the sieve, pressing the solids with a wooden spoon or spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. There should be about cups. Pour this mixture into a saucepan and bring to the simmer.
  6. Meanwhile, peel the peppers and remove and discard the cores and seeds. Cut the peppers into strips. Put the strips in the container of an electric blender or food processor. Blend thoroughly. There should be about 1 cup. Add the puréed peppers to the soup mixture.
  7. Combine the serrano chilies with the water and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Let cook about 6 minutes.
  8. Drain the chilies. Run them immediately under cold water and drain. Cut away and discard the stems. Cut the chilies in half and remove the seeds.
  9. Put the chilies in the container of an electric blender or food processor and add the fresh coriander. Add ¼ cup of the cream soup and blend as thoroughly as possible.
  10. Put the remaining cup cream in a bowl and beat until it stands in peaks. Add the chili-and-coriander mixture, folding it into the cream. Add salt to taste and ½ teaspoon lemon juice. Set aside.
  11. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice and salt to taste to the cream soup. There should be about 4 cups of soup.
  12. Pour equal portions of the soup into 4 to 6 soup bowls. Top each serving with a spoonful of the reserved cream-and-coriander mixture.