Pepper Jack Soup from the Falcon Lake Deli

Soup-making is something that I just know how to do. Why? I grew up surrounded by soup-simmering and soup-eating.

Tomato Beef Barleys and Chicken Noodles warmed my childhood. Vegetarian Borscht Dappled with Heavy Cream appeared in the spring and returned to freshen Ukrainian Christmas Eve (a meatier version was ladled daily at the Perogy Patch). Mushroom with Wild Rice, Bean and Bacon, Hearty Potato Tomato, Pepper Jack and many other creations starred in Soup and Sandwich specials at the Falcon Deli.

And now, on my blog, Pepper Jack will also exemplify the simple brilliance of my mom’s recipes. Yay good soup! Yay awesome Mom!

Mom’s Pepper Jack  Soup

Makes 5 cups, about 4-5 servings

The sweet red pepper and the heat of the cheese brighten this soup’s richness. You can purée the soup for a creamier texture. Or, eat the soup with full chunkiness and purée the leftovers to use as a dip or sauce. The puréed leftovers are a decadent dip for steamed artichokes (steam according to these instructions from A Spicy Perspective). (My head is spinning wondering if my mom and I should submit Pepper Jack Fondue with Steamed Artichokes to Food 52‘s fondue contest this week. Whaddya think?)

  • 4 tbsp butter (or margarine), divided: 2 tbsb to sauté the veggies and another 2 tbsp to make a roux
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 small)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (about 1/2 of a large one)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian. No way to make it vegan, I’m afraid.)
  • 1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 cups whole milk (or 1-12 oz. can evaporated milk and 3/4 cup fat-free milk), divided: 1 cup is added directly to the roux and 1 cup is added with the cheese
  • 6 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated (about 2 cups coarsely grated cheese)

In a medium frying pan melt 2 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook until they’re wilted.

Add the chicken broth and the drained diced tomatoes. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat melt the other 2 tbsp butter. Whisk in the flour, salt and black pepper until smooth (this flat-style whisk is my favorite kind for roux-making). Cook for a minute while whisking. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of whole milk (or 1 cup evaporated milk). Cook while stirring (with whisk or wooden spoon) until it comes to a boil. While continuing to stir so that you don’t scorch the bottom of the pot, allow it to boil for one minute.

Stir the simmered broth and veggies into the thickened milk. Add the pepper jack and the remaining milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until the cheese is melted. Do not let it boil. Taste and add a bit more salt and pepper if required. Serve garnished with a sprig of parsley on top for color or with a big chunk of bread on the side for dipping.


Check out the other posts in My Family’s Food and Restaurant History:

Find out what the upcoming themes will be on Cook the Story and check out which themes I’ve covered in the past.


Curious about Pepper Jack Cheese and yearning for more recipes? Head over to Foodista:

Pepper Jack Cheese on FoodistaPepper Jack Cheese


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  1. #1 by Shannon on February 14, 2011 - 10:07 am

    This looks fantastic! It’s definitely going on my ‘Soup Mondays’ menu. 😉

    • #2 by cookthestory on February 14, 2011 - 10:10 am

      Great idea to have soup on Mondays. Such a cozy way to start off the week.

      • #3 by Shannon on February 21, 2011 - 4:50 pm

        We just finished gobbling this up, and it was deeeeelicious! Seriously, I licked my bowl clean. 🙂 Thanks so much for the recipe! We’ll definitely be having this on other Monday Soup Nights. Yum.

        • #4 by cookthestory on February 21, 2011 - 4:55 pm

          I am sooo sooooo happy that you liked it! Yay!

          And now for another addition to Monday Soup Nights: Try today’s baked baked potato soup but for your vegetarian family, scrap the bacon and bacon fat. Use 2 tbsp butter and saute a bunch of onions in the butter before adding the flour. Then use veggie broth instead of chicken broth and add 1 tsp of cumin and/or smoked paprika instead of the sage. I’ve even thought of adding a can of white kidney beans, pureed or not, to add some protein.

          • #5 by Shannon on February 21, 2011 - 8:12 pm

            You are seriously the best! 🙂 I was already reading that recipe and veg’nizing it! It looks great. I’ll let you know when we try it.

            By the way, sorry I didn’t get back to your email yet. Last week was the Week of Death (perhaps that should read Weak!). We didn’t end up trying the appetizer on date night because date night didn’t happen. Next Saturday, for sure!

            • #6 by cookthestory on February 21, 2011 - 10:08 pm

              So sorry you had such a weak week. Glad you’re better and hope you do manage to get in a date night soon!

          • #7 by Shannon on February 21, 2011 - 8:22 pm

            Ooohhhh… a question though. Why not sage? Just wondering if there’s a reason you think we should omit it because we do love sage. My mushroom gravy includes a bunch of sage.

            • #8 by cookthestory on February 21, 2011 - 10:13 pm

              You could put the sage too. In my head I’m not loving the sage, cumin and smoked paprika combo. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be good. It just means that I wouldn’t make a strong recommendation for it without testing it myself first to figure out how much of each and whether it would work at all. If you’ve done that combo of spices before, then go for it. If you’re willing to experiment, go for it. You could even just try mixing the three together and tasting them raw to see how they work. If you don’t then love the mixture of flavors, I would try oregano instead of the sage (oregano, cumin and paprika love love love each other). Btw, love the sound of your mushroom gravy!

              • #9 by cookthestory on February 22, 2011 - 7:34 am

                I forgot to say that the reason I suggested cumin and smoked paprika was to give the soup smokiness without bacon. You could leave out these spices (and that smoked flavor) and do sage and thyme or oregano or basil and marjoram or chili powder and a tiny bit of cayenne or curry powder/paste, cumin and coriander. Any combination of spices you like will probably work. Note that you will probably need a bit more salt also because of the lack of bacon. Taste and see.

                • #10 by Shannon on February 22, 2011 - 9:14 am

                  Sounds good! Now I understand why you suggested no sage. I’ll play around with it and see what I decide on. I’ll let you know (not this coming Monday, but the next one!).

                  The mushroom gravy has seasonings of sage, marjoram and thyme.. and is so good! 🙂 I am a huge mushroom fan, though.

  2. #11 by Barry on February 14, 2011 - 10:01 pm

    Yes, I think you should enter all the contests. The recipes are delicious and the soup looks amazing.

    • #12 by cookthestory on February 15, 2011 - 7:57 am

      I think I’m going to. Have to pick up an artichoke or two today and see how it goes.

  3. #13 by Rachel on February 15, 2011 - 4:57 pm

    Sounds mmmmmmmm good:-) Your posts make me hungry!

  4. #14 by Jessica on February 16, 2011 - 2:24 am

    I am definitely going to have to try this soon! yum!

  5. #16 by Debi (Table Talk) on February 16, 2011 - 6:41 am

    These flavors would be really nice with artichokes! –The ingredients all work together when artichokes are combined in a dip, so why not deconstructed, where the artichokes are the dippers?

    • #17 by cookthestory on February 16, 2011 - 7:16 am

      I tried it yesterday and it did work out really well (meaning I couldn’t stop eating it). I made the dip thicker by reducing the amount of liquid and increasing the cheese a bit. I think I’m going to submit it to Food 52 today. Feeling ridiculously nervous though!

  6. #18 by Kimberly on February 17, 2011 - 10:32 pm

    I must try this by the end of the week. There are a couple of chilly rainy days in the forecast. This soup plus a loaf of homemade french bread and a glass of wine sound like just the ticket!

    • #19 by cookthestory on February 18, 2011 - 9:22 am

      This soup on a chilly rainy day sounds perfect. Y’know, one of the oddly weird things about living in Florida is that the weather is almost always nice. This should be a good thing but instead, I miss all those cozy cold days that cause your soul to crave soup. Enjoy it for me!

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