Photo Credit: Swiss Miss
It's very simple: if you use a pepper mill, then simply twist a quarter-turn of ground pepper onto a plate, press your index finger on the pepper grounds and whatever sticks to your finger is the right amount to flick into your soup, salad, mashed potatoes, whatever.
If you are using pre-ground pepper, then shake once into the palm of your hand, press your index finger on the ground pepper and whatever sticks to your finger etc.
This recipe is good for up to 8 servings. For 16, 24, and similar multiples divide the number of people you are serving by 8 to get to the number of pinches of pepper you should use.
Do not, under any circumstances, use a teaspoon to measure out the pepper. A teaspoon should only be used if you are feeding a large prison population or an army on the move.
But first, a caution, do not add any pepper until you taste the food first. It may not need pepper at all. Some of my readers may object, "But my mother always added a lot of pepper to soups, salads, etc."
Your mother's wrong. If she added salt and pepper to food, it means she didn't know how to make food taste good without them and was simply cooking how her mother cooked.
A good cook does not need salt and pepper. For those who do not know how to cook, here are some hints.
First of all when I mention ingredients I do not mean salt and pepper.
Soups should have a minimum of 5 ingredients. If you have less than 5 ingredients, it is not soup, it's broth.
When I make chicken soup, I use skinless chicken thighs (with the bone), celery, onions, carrots, parsnip, leek, turnip, parsley, and dill. I add carrots in two stages. The first batch goes in with all the other vegetables in cheese cloth. About halfway through the cooking process I add another batch of carrots directly in the soup, these are the ones to be eaten. The first batch in the cheese cloth will be thrown away with all the other vegetables after I squeeze out all the juices.
I hate finding strands of leek or chunks of parsnip in my soup, they should have been filtered out.
I cook the egg noodles separately so they don't get soggy sitting in the soup. They remain al dente until one is ready to add them to the soup.
As for pepper or salt. If you added more than 5 vegetables, you do not need salt or pepper. If you cannot taste the soup without salt or pepper then the problem is you, not the soup.
The same goes for salads: Salads should have a minimum of 5 ingredients. If you have less than 5 ingredients, it's not salad, it's a side of vegetable. Restaurants who give you a side of lettuce with some carrot strands and call it salad are lying.
My favorite salad is a gentle toss of romaine lettuce, sliced radishes, poppy seeds, slivers of green and red peppers, finely chopped scallions, crushed garlic, cherry tomato halves, and sprinkled with my own home-made Red Wine Vinaigrette (with no salt or pepper).
If you cannot taste the salad without salt or pepper then the problem is you, not the salad.
The solution is to add less and less salt and pepper in your diet until your taste buds have been resurrected from the spice death they were previously consigned to. Obviously I do not eat canned or prepared foods where 40 of the ingredients are chemicals, not foods.
In closing: the proper amount of pepper to add to food is none.