Creamy High Protein Red Pepper Soup
With both dairy and beans, this Red Pepper Soup is a powerhouse of both nutrition and flavor! Easy to make and to eat, it’s perfect for our elderly parents.
As people reach their eighties and nineties, they often lose their appetites. They may lose their sense of smell, and therefore lose most flavor. (And if someone doesn’t seem to eat anything that isn’t sweet or salty, that’s probably the reason.) They are less active, so use fewer calories and may just plain want less food. They may have some trouble chewing or swallowing, so food they used to love, like bread, loses its appeal. And as their general health and energy level declines, they may just find that eating tires them.
At the same time, they still need plenty of nutrition. Protein for healing, fiber for regularity, vitamins for skin health and immune system support and… The list goes on, and the exact list your parent needs may vary.
And all this nutrition needs to be packed into food they are willing and able to eat – food they find appealing.
Several companies make a packaged red pepper and tomato soup Dad enjoys at lunch. So I started to think about playing with that idea – it has a dairy base, so protein, and a nice concentration of vegetables. Then I noticed the resemblance to Creamy Tomato Bean Soup – what if I used beans? Also protein, plus fiber…
Hey – why not make the bean soup but use milk instead of broth? Really pack in the protein? Oh, but as I made it, it was a bit bland – more vegetables for flavor! Well, that’s good… (OK – you’re going to see quite a few variations of that idea, as we go on…) And oh, look – I make the whole thing basically out of pantry staples.
The one extra was roasted red pepper. If you want to roast your own red pepper, go for it. I will cheer you on from the sidelines, wistfully adding that I did things like that before I started caring for the parents… I bought a jar. Jars seem to come in all different sizes – I got a large one, more than we would use in a short while, and actually froze some of the peppers for later! (Dad really enjoys the flavor – you will see other recipes using it, as we go along…) I’d say, though, if you get either a 10 or 12 ounce jar (I’ve seen both) just go ahead and use about half the jar – don’t make yourself crazy, it doesn’t have to be that precise. (See why nutrition software doesn’t like me? I’m going to write the recipe as 5 ounces… and 6 won’t hurt anything at all.)
Directions for Creamy High Protein Red Pepper Soup
You’re going to need a blender. I used to always use an immersion blender for soup like this, because it doesn’t blend completely smooth and I liked a little texture – I now use a jar blender because it works better for them if it is smooth. Basically you’re going to puree all ingredients to begin with, so…
Drain and rinse two cans of white beans. I used Great Northern (because that’s what I happened to have.) Pea beans, navy beans, they’re interchangeable, you can use cannellini if you want to. (You can also use three cups of any white bean you have cooked yourself.) If you’re using an immersion blender put them in a soup pot with one to two roasted red peppers (five to six ounces, half a typical jar,) 3 cups of milk, and a six ounce can of tomato paste, and puree. If you’re using an average jar blender, put in one can of beans, half the milk, and about half the red pepper, puree, and pour into a pot. Repeat with the rest of the beans, pepper, and milk. Then stir in the tomato paste.
Now if you want, add a teaspoon of hot smoked Spanish Paprika. It adds a lot of flavor and a little zest without getting too hot, and I have found they can taste that bit of heat, and prefer spicy food because of it. If your family doesn’t like heat, either cut back or use sweet smoked paprika – or leave it out altogether, if you want. Also, check for salt. As far as I’m concerned, all the canned goods in this provide quite enough salt, thank you – but Dad has been eating packaged soup so long he expects soup, particularly, to be quite salty. I need to add more for him or he doesn’t like it.
Bring the soup to a simmer, and simmer about five minutes to meld flavors. (And if you’re adding the tomato paste at this point, the heat will help it blend in.) If you really need to rush, and don’t plan to serve it at once, you can skip this step, and put it away as is, but it does help flavor.
This makes six cups of a relatively thick and creamy soup. It can be thinned down with up to two more cups of milk, if that makes it more appealing to your family. We all enjoy it as written. It keeps for several days in the fridge, and freezes well, so if you have to set up a week of meals on a Saturday, this takes ten minutes and can be popped in the freezer in single serving containers to use later. And in a different situation, it would be terrific in a thermos in a lunchbox.
Creamy High Protein Red Pepper Soup
- 2 cans great northern beans
- 5 oz roasted red pepper
- 3 c milk
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1 t hot smoked Spanish paprika or to taste
- salt to taste opt.
- Use blender to puree first four ingredients.
- Pour into a pot, add paprika and salt (if needed.) Bring to a simmer, simmer for five minutes to meld flavors.
- Serve at once, or cool and refrigerate or freeze for later.