MUNDANE MYSTERIES: What’s The Difference Between Soup & Stew?

With the chill in the air we’re feeling now, you couldn’t be blamed for daydreaming about diving into a big ol’ hearty bowl of soup. Or, perhaps, stew. Either will certainly warm & fill you up, but they’re certainly not the same thing. So, what’s the difference?

Both liquid-based, soups & stews can contain a variety of ingredients, from vegetables to meat, fish to potatoes, and lots more. Actually, both can contain the exact same ingredients. So, what sets your mom’s trademark beef stew with potatoes, carrots, and peas, apart from your spouse’s signature beef soup with potatoes, carrots, and peas? It actually all boils down to the amount of liquid used to make it.

To make soup, your ingredients usually get fully submerged in stock or water. For stew, you just barely cover them in liquid. With less liquid used for stew, it thickens during the cooking process & creates a gravy-like sauce, which makes the solid ingredients the stars of the dish. Some recipes even call for flour or a roux to make the stew even thicker & heartier. And, since it isn’t as liquid-laden as soup, stew is commonly served over noodles or rice or other grains.

The cooking process, itself, is usually different between soups & stews, as well: some soups can be made in as little as 20-30 minutes, while stews will always require more time to simmer. Because of the time needed, a lot of stew recipes will suggest you use a slow cooker, while most soups can just be made in an uncovered pot on the stove. Because of the time required to stew stew, its ingredients are often cut bigger than the ones in soups, since they have more time to cook & soften. What it doesn’t explain is why I can’t get soups & stews off my brain now! Either one, I’m game!

If you’ve got a Mundane Mystery on your brain, send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].