What is the difference between soup and stew? The most common explanation makes a simple distinction based on the amount of liquid in the dish. The theory goes that if there is more liquid it is a soup and if there is less liquid it is a stew. However, when labeling a soup or stew, the cooking methods are key.
Soup vs Stew
Using the popular liquid distinction, soups and stews represent distinct points on a single “thickness” continuum, with thin broths and clear noodle soups at one end and thick, hearty beef stews at the other. The problem with this idea is that it's impossible to pinpoint the exact thickness (or lack thereof) that marks the boundary between soup and stew.
If you can't define the difference, the words “soup” and “stew” no longer have any meaning for each other. A soup is just a thin stew, and a stew is just a thick soup. Luckily we can Distinguish between soup and stew by looking at the cooking method used to prepare them. Soups are boiled while stews are stewed.
what is soup
There are two broad categories of soups: clear soups and thick soups. In general, the basic method for preparing all soups is to start with a liquid and add the ingredients. In general, all soups are cooked without a lid.
Clear soups include dishes such as vegetable soup, chicken noodle soup, and beef barley soup. They are made of clear broth or broth and are unthickened. Usually, they are prepared by sautéing or sautéing flavorful ingredients like onions and celery, then adding the broth or broth, and then adding the rest of the ingredients. The soup is simmered until the vegetables are cooked, and cooked meat is added at the end (although fish and seafood, which cook quickly, can be added raw). The cooking time is generally relatively short.
Thick soups include cream soups, pureed soups, bean soups, chowders, bisque soups, and some chillies. Cream soups are made with either velouté sauce, béchamel sauce, or with broth thickened with roux or a pureed main ingredient such as potatoes, broccoli, or mushrooms, and finished off with heavy cream or an egg and cream mixture called a liaison.
Pureed soups are similar to cream soups, but instead of being thickened by adding starch, their consistency comes from the starches in the ingredients themselves, such as carrots, potatoes, or rice, and they are pureed before serving.
Chowders are almost always made with potatoes and milk and some type of fish or shellfish, and are usually chunky. Biscuit cream soups are made by boiling the shells of crustaceans and adding milk or cream. Bean soups are prepared in essentially the same way as clear soups, but because the starch in legumes thickens the soup and they have longer cooking times, they are considered thick and not clear.
What is stew?
Stew is made using a cooking technique called braising. From a culinary point of view, the words “stew” and “stew” actually mean the same thing. Braising is a moist heat cooking technique that breaks down tough cuts of meat, making them tender and juicy. This is done over low heat for a relatively long period of time in a saucepan with a lid, either on the stovetop or in the oven.
Meats such as ground beef, short ribs, brisket, oxtail, pork shoulder, and lamb shanks make excellent stews, as do dark-colored chicken cuts such as thighs and drumsticks. Depending on the meat, the cooking time can vary from one to several hours.
Traditionally, the meat is first browned in hot fat before being either partially or fully covered in broth or other flavorful liquid and flavorings and spices and cooked at a low temperature, ideally between 205 and 210 F. Connective tissue in the meat breaks down and turns into Collagen, which thickens and adds richness to the cooking liquid. Sometimes the meat is dusted with flour before browning, which provides extra thickening.
If you're making stew instead of pot roast, cut the meat into smaller pieces, but the cooking method is the same. Vegetables like carrots and potatoes are added towards the end of the cooking time so they don't get mushy.
What about chili?
Chili is a special case that can fit into either or both categories depending on how the meat is prepared. Sometimes chili is prepared by stewing a large piece of beef, such as beef jerky or beef chunks, and adding the beans and other ingredients at the end. In this case it is a stew.
Other chili recipes consist of ground beef that is seared on the stove and then the liquid and other ingredients are added. In this case, it's soup.