Classic Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup

Beef and vegetable soup in green bowl

 carolleal/Getty Images

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total: 2 hrs 50 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
397 Calories
17g Fat
31g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 397
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 21%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 256mg 85%
Sodium 2533mg 110%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 26mg 131%
Calcium 282mg 22%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 836mg 18%
*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

  • Kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 cup chopped onions

  • 1 whole onion, studded with 3 cloves

  • 1 rib celery, sliced thin

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thin

  • 1 leek, washed and sliced, including tender green part (about 1 cup)

  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

  • 4 cups chicken broth

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 small meaty veal knuckle

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon 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

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cups 1/2-inch-diced potatoes

  • 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 chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

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, 2 teaspoons salt, and the 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.