Soup and stew are both delicious ways to consume food. But, what’s the difference? Many would say that stew is simply a thick soup, but then some thicker soups tend to look more stew-like. So, how does one categorize one liquid meal a soup and another a stew?
Soup vs. Stew
The American Heritage Dictionary defines soup as “A liquid food prepared from meat, fish, or vegetable stock combined with various other ingredients and often containing solid pieces.”
The same dictionary defines stew in two ways:
vt. “To cook (food) by simmering or boiling slowly.”
n. “A dish cooked by stewing, especially a mixture of meat or fish and vegetables with stock.”
So, when we think about these definitions, we see that soup is made by adding ingredients to broth, which is the case with chicken noodle soup or split pea soup. However, stew consists of a very specific way of preparing food. When you cook beef stew, you add beef and veggies to beef stock and simmer it with the expectation that this process will cook the ingredients for you. You could actually take the beef and veggies out of the broth and still call it beef stew.
This is probably why we get the old saying: “Eat stew on a plate and soup in a bowl, though both may come from the same pot.” The idea is that the broth is the soup and the stew is what was cooking in the broth!
There are other interesting facts when it comes to soups and stews. For example, one culture may call something a soup that another culture would almost certainly call stew. When it comes to the Vietnamese soup “pho,” it could be argued that this is actually a stew, since the broth is already there and you add foods to simmer and cook in the broth. However, the Vietnamese definitely define it as soup.
In the end, no matter how confusing or different delicious liquid meals are, soup and stew are both fantastic foods in their own right and should be enjoyed all year round! Be sure to visit us here at Portland Kettle and see what soups, stews, and salads we have to offer. Currently, we are open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 7 pm.