Culinary Institute of America Recipe
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Red Pepper Soup with Sumac

This chilled soup is a refreshing treat in the warm months of summer, but it is also delicious when served warm in the winter. Ground sumac is made from the dried berries of a plant that grows wild throughout the Mediterranean region. It is a beautiful deep red color and lends a tart, astringent flavor. Sumac can be found whole or ground.

Chef’s Note: If you can’t find lemon verbena leaves, you can substitute 1 stalk lemongrass cut into 2-inch sticks. It is best to crush the lemongrass sticks with a mallet and tie them into a bundle with kitchen twine so that it is easy to pull them out of the pot later.

These and other great recipes are in CIA's cookbook, Mediterranean Cooking.

Red Pepper Soup with Sumac recipe - F




Makes 1 1/2 quarts

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, sliced
  • 4 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 8 lemon verbena leaves
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp ground sumac
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
  • Thinly sliced lemon zest, to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 6 small lemon verbena leaves
  • 1 tsp ground sumac


  1. To make the soup: Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent with no color, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and lemon verbena leaves and continue to cook until both are somewhat soft.
  2. Add the broth and increase the heat to bring it to a full boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface, then reduce the heat to establish a simmer. Add the sumac and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper and allow it to cool completely.
  3. Remove the lemon verbena leaves and process the soup in a blender until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Serve the soup in chilled bowls. Garnish each bowl with a dollop of yogurt, lemon zest, chives, and a lemon verbena leaf, and sprinkle lightly with the ground sumac.

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