Roasted Red Peppers
How we tested
We tasted eight supermarket brands of roasted red peppers, both straight out of the jar and in Roasted Red Pepper Soup—to find the best-tasting red peppers. Three were domestically grown and the others were products of Spain, Greece, and Turkey. Tasted plain, our tasters preferred firmer, smokier, sweeter tasting peppers in strong yet simple brines of salt and water. Peppers packed in brines that contained garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and grape must—characteristic of most of the European peppers—rated second. The extra ingredients provided “interesting,” and “lively,” flavor profiles, but the vinegar often masked the authentic red pepper flavor and smoky notes that tasters preferred. The blandest peppers were also the slimiest ones, both of which rated dead last. In soup, texture was indistinguishable, but the sweet and smoky peppers prevailed, as their mildness didn’t interfere with the other flavors in the soup, while those packed in vinegary brines made the soup too sour. Our favorite pepper is domestically grown sweet with a hint of smokiness, the mild, pure red pepper flavor blended well into the soup, and its simple yet strong brine of salt and water gave it enough flavor to stand on its own. Our runner up is also domestically grown and packed in a brine of salt and water.