Do Something

Taste pepper pot soup

The only place you can get pepper pot soup in Philadelphia is City Tavern, where you’ll be served the steaming dish from a waiter dressed in Revolutionary era garb.

Want to make some of your own? Here’s Tonya Hopkins’ signature pepper pot soup recipe:


1 cassava, cut into chunks
3 strips thick-cut bacon, cut in 1 to 2 inch pieces
1 pound stew beef, cut into 1 or 2 inch cubes
3 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon starch thickener, such as tapioca or corn
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 bunch scallions, green part only, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 poblano pepper
1 red or yellow bell pepper
1 habanero
1 jalapeno
1 pound collard greens or lacinato kale, stemmed and cut into strips
2 or 3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
Beef Stock to cover


Bring salted water to boil in a medium pan, add cassava chunks. Simmer until soft and tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain, smash until consistency of chunky applesauce, set aside.

Meanwhile, Place large dutch oven over medium heat. Brown bacon on both sides until just crisp, remove and set aside, leaving rendered fat in the pan.

Mix salt, pepper, allspice, clove, paprika, onion and garlic powders together in a small bowl.

Season beef with half of mixture then lightly dredge in starch.

Add oil to pan with bacon fat, brown beef on all sides in a single layer, in batches if necessary.

Layer onions, scallions, garlic, peppers, remaining seasoning mix on top of beef. Cover and let steam until vegetables are softening and aromatic, about 5 minutes.

Stir in stock, fresh thyme leaves and cassava mash. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes, add greens and continue simmering until just tender.

Adjust seasoning to taste.


Learn More

About the Foodizen series


Foodizen, a new regular feature from The Citizen, delves into the nexus of food and culture in cities, as a way to tell us about the people, experiences, tastes and history of Philadelphia.

We know that food is about more than food. And food stories intersect with the roiling life of the city—its politics, diversity, education, its ideas of home, the environment and quality of life. Through food, we can see how people strive for sustainability; survive food deserts; urban farm; build restaurants with social consciences; use restaurants as centers for activism, welcome and good cheer. We can see how people live—and what keeps them doing it.

Foodizen will take us into neighborhoods, far from the Center City foodie epicenter, not just for stories but also for community gatherings to explore some of the ideas that are continuously re-creating the city of Philadelphia.
We’d love to hear from you.

What food stories do you want to read about? Let us know here.

Foodizen Podcast: The Most Famous Soup You’ve Never Heard Of

The latest episode of the food history podcast examines the roots of pepper pot soup, sold by Campbell’s for 110 years. No, it was not invented in Camden

Foodizen Podcast: The Most Famous Soup You’ve Never Heard Of

The latest episode of the food history podcast examines the roots of pepper pot soup, sold by Campbell’s for 110 years. No, it was not invented in Camden

The history of pepper pot soup, consumed by millions of Americans throughout the 20th century, does not begin with Andy Warhol’s famous canned soup painting (sold for a record $11.7 million); or Camden’s Campbell’s Soup Company (which mass-marketed it); or a white soldier in George Washington’s Valley Forge army (credited for centuries as its creator).

It hails from West Africa and the Caribbean, but became a signature dish here in Philadelphia, where black women made and sold it by the bowlful on the streets from colonial times through the early 20th Century.

Listen here for the true story of Philly’s pepper pot soup:



And then watch me on ABC’s The Chew, where I talk about being a food historian and show off my own version of this family favorite:

Tonya Hopkins, aka The Food Griot, founded the nonfiction story-telling platform, “The Food Griot: Sharing Savory Stories on The Makings of American Cuisine, (Cocktails)…” She has researched and written for several scholarly and consumer publications and appears regularly on radio and television. Her work in culinary history activism aims to help disenfranchised, mostly black and brown food/drink industry professionals achieve greater inclusion, equity and wholesome empowerment. Follow @TheFoodGriot on: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

The header photo is a cropped version of John Lewis Krimmel's "Pepper-Pot: A Scene in the Philadelphia Market," which is owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil comments. If your post is offensive, not only will we not publish it, we'll laugh at you while hitting delete.

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story

Advertising Terms

We do not accept political ads, issue advocacy ads, ads containing expletives, ads featuring photos of children without documented right of use, ads paid for by PACs, and other content deemed to be partisan or misaligned with our mission. The Philadelphia Citizen is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and all affiliate content will be nonpartisan in nature. Advertisements are approved fully at The Citizen's discretion. Advertisements and sponsorships have different tax-deductible eligibility. For questions or clarification on these conditions, please contact Director of Sales & Philanthropy Kristin Long at [email protected] or call (609)-602-0145.