There is a common confusion between soup and stew, as they are often regarded as the same dish.
Although their main distinction may seem as simple as the amount of liquid in each dish, more liquid indicating soup, and less liquid pointing towards stew, the distinction stretches as far as the cooking methods.
For keen cooks, understanding the difference is essential for producing the best taste and flavor experience.
While both are made using similar ingredients, soups and stews each boast unique characteristics that separate them as two respected dishes.
What is Soup?
Soup is a liquid-based dish that is emulsified with seasonings, utilizing spices, vegetables, legumes, fish cooked, or meat to produce distinctive flavors.
The possible liquid base could include water, stock, or broth, as well as a creamier range of options, such as milk or cream. These liquids may be combined to reach a cheesy or creamy consistency.
As a result, soups have different textures. Cooks can make thick, thin, or chunky soup depending on how the ingredients have been cut. This thickness can be adjusted to suit the chef's preference during the boiling stage.
Soup recipes can take as little as a half-hour to make and cook, or as long as a few hours depending on the main ingredients and cooking process.
Soups are loosely categorized into the following:
Clear soups are generally made from stock or broth, causing a thin and clear consistency.
Flavors are derived from sauteing onions and celery, which are added to a rich broth or stock to produce an aromatic cooking liquid.
The main component of the soup, such as vegetables or meat, will then be added, enabling the solid ingredients to cook through. The clear soup is then left to simmer and served warm.
Clear soup recipes require a shorter cooking and prep time than stews, making them a convenient meal for the whole family to enjoy.
Examples of clear soups include:
- Bone broth
The main ingredients used in recipes of thick soup provide additional flavor to make more hearty dishes, unlike soup that's clear. Thick soup can use sauces, puree, or roux as a base, as well as heavy cream or liaison (a mixture of heavy cream and egg).
These soups are typically cooked in a pan on low heat with other ingredients, such as meat or vegetables, to reduce cooking time and soften solid ingredients.
Pureed soups are almost the same as creamy soups, but with the exception that instead of using added starch, pureed soups use what is naturally derived from starchy vegetables, like carrots or potatoes.
Examples of thick soups include:
- Vegetable soup
- Meatball Minestrone Soup
- Red Pepper & Meatball Soup
- Chicken & Mushroom Soup
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup
What is Stew?
Stew is a thick liquid-based dish that can be served on its own or alongside other elements, such as mashed potatoes, meat, rice, and egg noodles. This is because stew has a gravy-like base, enabling consumers to pour it over other foods.
The consistency is achieved by adding flour, cornstarch, or roux - beer or wine may also be added to enhance flavor.
To follow most stew recipes, you'll need to use a cooking technique called braising. This is when vegetables and meat are cut into large chunks, and placed into a covered pot alongside some cooking liquid.
Unlike soup, stews use less liquid by keeping the ingredients cooked in just enough water, broth, or stock to cover them. The cooking liquid is always clear in stews, and never creamy.
Stews are cooked over a long period of time and the liquid reduces. This results in a thick, hearty bowl of stew that will warm you on a chilly day.
Examples of stews include:
- Beef stew
- Vegetable stew
What’s the Difference Between Stew vs Soup
Soup and stew overlap in terms of ingredients, using broth, meat, and vegetables to create hearty dishes. Despite seemingly having the same foundation, stews and soups differ in the main, following ways:
Soup Contains More Liquid
One difference between soup and stew is that soup contains more liquid. To make a beef stew or a vegetable stew, the primary ingredient is cooked in just enough liquid to have it barely covered, whereas soups can be completely liquified.
Soup recipes can also use a broader range of cooking liquid options, such as creams, to produce creamy or cheesy soups.
Soup is a Broad Category
The term soup encompasses a broad category of liquid-based foods. Professionally, there are 5 classifications of soup, including clear soup, national soup, thick soup, specialty soup, and cold soup.
Soups can be as thick or as thin as the chef desires, which is unlike the gravy-like base of stews.
Cooking Methods Slightly Differ
The main difference that sets soup apart from stew is the cooking method. Stews can be cooked using a slow cooker or covered pot, whereas soups can be simmered in a saucepan.
Soup and stew also have different cooking times, with your favorite stew recipes taking much longer to cook.
Proper Good Meals
Proper Good provides a range of hearty soup options including gluten-free, dairy-free, and plant-based meals, which are all made from clean, nutritious ingredients! These delicious soups require no preparation and are ready to eat in just 90 seconds.