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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Stewing over the differences between soup and stew

A bowl of an orange and brown colored stew with green garnish on the top. Contains an orange I block logo and an Illinois Extension wordmark.

Comfort food is what I crave on cold, dark evenings and for me that includes a bowl of warm, hearty stew. While both soup and stew will provide the warm nourishment I desire, there is a difference between the two. Soup generally refers to ingredients, such as meat and vegetables, cooked in a large amount of liquid like broth or tomato juice. Soups may be clear, like chicken noodle, or thick, like any cream soup. Stew, on the other hand, includes solid ingredients, such as potatoes and meat, that have been “stewed” or “braised.” Stewing refers to cooking uniform pieces of meat fully submerged in a liquid, while braising refers to cooking larger chunks of meat in just a small amount of liquid. Whether braised or stewed, the result equals a stew that has a greater portion of solid than liquid.

Stews are generally simmered on low heat for an extended amount of time. This can break down tough cuts of meat. Stews can be cooked in an oven, on a stovetop, in a slow cooker, or in a pressure cooker, which achieves the same tender results but much quicker. Chuck roast is commonly used for beef stew, but a rump roast, bottom round or top round are generally leaner. Stew can also be made with chicken or fish, a healthier option. Root vegetables such as carrots, onion and potatoes are commonly added to stews. Some are simmered until the liquid is reduced and others add a thickening agent for a gravy-like consistency. If you’re stewing over what’s for dinner, the answer is stew!

Chicken Stew

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 ½ lbs. boneless skinless chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

3 carrots, cut into ¼ -inch slices

2 potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 Tablespoon ketchup

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken, stirring occasionally to brown on all sides, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Heat 1 Tablespoon remaining oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, ketchup, flour, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour over vegetables. Add potatoes and chicken. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 190 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 260 milligrams sodium, 16 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 21 grams protein


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Sanket Shah on Unsplash

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.