Food & Drink

Alphabet Soup for Grownups

Author Joe Yonan shares his recipe for savory roasted tomato and pepper soup with Southern field peas

Photo: Aubrie Pick © 2020

“Roasting concentrates the flavor of tomatoes, meaning you can make this soup with less-than-stellar, out-of-season tomatoes, and it’s still fantastic. (But make it when local tomatoes are at their best, and you’ll knock your own socks off.) The addition of lady cream peas makes this taste like the best possible version of childhood alphabet soup, with the little white beans playing the part of those pasta letters and numbers—although I’m afraid all you’ll be able to spell is “********.” The bean cooking liquid helps add a silkiness, so if you are substituting canned beans, you’ll lose some of that.” —Joe Yonan

Reprinted with permission from Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, with 125 Recipes by Joe Yonan, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.


  • Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup

    • 2 pounds tomatoes, cut into large chunks

    • 2 red bell peppers, cut into large chunks

    • 6 garlic cloves

    • 1 large white or yellow onion, cut into large chunks

    • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

    • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

    • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

    • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

    • 1½ cups dried lady cream peas (may substitute black-eyed peas or canned no-salt-added navy or cannellini beans)

    • 2 cups bean cooking liquid

    • 1 cup vegetable broth

    • ½ cup lightly packed basil leaves, chopped

    • Sherry vinegar (optional)

    • Sugar (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. 

  2. Toss the tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, and onion on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of the salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. Roast until the tomatoes have collapsed and are starting to brown on the edges and the bell peppers are tender, about 45 minutes.

  3. While the vegetables are roasting, cook the lady cream peas (if using canned beans, no need to cook the beans): In a large pot, combine them with enough water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, add the remaining ½ tsp. salt, and simmer, covered, until tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Drain, reserving the bean liquid. Measure out 2 cups of the bean cooking liquid and save any remaining for another use.

  4. When the vegetables have finished roasting, transfer the contents of the baking sheet to the empty soup pot and set it over medium-high heat. Stir in the bean cooking liquid and 1 cup water or broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and simmer until the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. 

  5. Add the basil and use an immersion (handheld) blender to puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the lady cream peas and continue cooking over medium-low until the peas are warmed through, about 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed, along with a splash of vinegar and/or a pinch of sugar, if desired. Serve hot.