Classic Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup

Beef and vegetable soup in green bowl

 carolleal/Getty Images

  • Total: 2 hrs 50 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
524 Calories
36g Fat
34g Carbs
20g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 524
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 46%
Saturated Fat 21g 105%
Cholesterol 149mg 50%
Sodium 2527mg 110%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Protein 20g
Calcium 190mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tripe, veal, and vegetables combine to make a thick, hearty soup traditionally known as pepper pot. Do not be deterred by its long list of ingredients. This soup is quite easy to make, but it does require about two and a half hours of slow simmering, so it is a good idea to plan ahead.

There are stories swirling about the origin of this dish that shares its name with a stew that is popular in the Caribbean.

Some say that this dish came about during the American Revolutionary War when the cook for the Continental Army stationed near Valley Forge had problems getting food from local sources. So he threw rations and meat scraps into a pot and heavily spiced it. This great, desperate effort yielded what is now known as the delicious pepper pot.

As interesting as the Revolutionary War Story sounds, it is more likely that the Caribbean dish was brought to Philadelphia from the enslaved people and freedmen who brought a taste for the spicy broth from their island home to the U.S. In 1811, artist John Lewis Krimmel depicted a pepper pot street vendor in Philadelphia with his painting, "Pepper-Pot: A Scene in the Philadelphia Market." The painting shows a barefoot Black woman serving soup from a pot to white customers.


  • 1 1/2 pounds beef honeycomb tripe
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • Water with 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup onions (chopped)
  • 1 whole onion, studded with 3 cloves
  • 1 rib celery (sliced thin)
  • 1 large carrot (peeled and sliced thin)
  • 1 leek (about 1 cup) (washed and sliced, including tender green part)
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper (diced)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small meaty veal knuckle
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf (broken in half)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups potatoes (diced into 1/2-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk or heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup butter for garnish
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley for garnish (chopped)

Steps to Make It

  1. Begin preparing the tripe. First, rinse the tripe under cold water.

  2. Drain and place on a cutting board.

  3. Sprinkle with salt and rub into tripe to clean the crevices. Rinse again to remove the salt.

  4. Place the tripe in a 3-quart saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches with 1 tablespoon of salt stirred in.

  5. Slowly bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. Drain the tripe and let cool. Cut the tripe into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

  6. Heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of butter, chopped onions, whole onion, celery, carrots, leeks, and bell pepper.

  7. Stir to coat the vegetables, cover, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Do not brown.

  8. Add the chicken broth and water to the pot, along with the veal knuckle, tripe, garlic, chili powder, bay leaf, oregano, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

  9. Remove the veal knuckle and pick off the meat, cutting any large pieces down to bite-size.

  10. Discard the whole onion.

  11. Return the veal meat to the pot along with potatoes, milk, and parsley.

  12. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Stir in cornstarch mixture and simmer 2 to 3 minutes until slightly thickened.

  13. Swirl butter into the hot soup until it is melted and immediately ladle into bowls to serve. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.