Turkish Tomato, Bulgur, and Red Pepper Soup

Tomato and red pepper soups have countless variations throughout Turkey, but all are full-flavored and enriched with grains. We started our soup with onion and red bell peppers, softening them before creating a solid flavor backbone with garlic, tomato paste, white wine, dried mint, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes.

For additional smokiness, canned fire-roasted tomatoes did the trick. For the grain, we turned to versatile bulgur, a common ingredient in Turkish and other Mediterranean cuisines.

While it plays an important role in salads, it also has a place in soups. When stirred into a soup, bulgur absorbs the surrounding flavors and gives off starch that creates a silky texture. Since bulgur is so quick-cooking, we stirred it in toward the end, giving it just enough time to become tender.

A sprinkle of fresh mint gave the soup a final punch of flavor. When shopping, don’t confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which has a much longer cooking time and will not work in this recipe.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped Salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled 1⁄2 teaspoon smoked paprika 1⁄8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1⁄2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth 2 cups water
  • 3⁄4 cup medium-grind bulgur, rinsed 1⁄3 cup chopped fresh mint


1- Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell peppers, 3⁄4 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and cook until softened and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

2- Stir in garlic, dried mint, smoked paprika, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.

3- Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 minute.

4- Add tomatoes and their juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes soften and begin to break apart, about 10 minutes.

5- Stir in broth, water, and bulgur and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until bulgur is tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, sprinkling individual portions with fresh mint.

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