Difference Between Soup And Stew

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Soup is a combination of ingredients cooked in a liquid (broth). Stew is prepared by submerging the ingredients in the liquid, covering, and then simmering for an extended period. 

A hearty soup or chunky stew is a must-have on cold winter nights. Both are easy to prepare and delicious enough to satiate your taste buds. Let’s explore the differences between these two comfort foods. 

What is a Soup?

A soup is a liquid-based dish in which vegetables, meats, or legumes are cooked in water, broth, or stock for an extended time on low heat. 

The main characteristic of soup is that it contains lots of flavorful liquid and less solid stuff. 

You can serve soups hot or cold. However, many prefer hot soups to their hard counterparts. This is primarily due to the better flavor extraction from solid foods upon heating. 

Tip: Pair your soup with a sandwich, salad, or even pasta for a balanced meal. You can also purchase ready-to-eat soup cans from any nearby grocery store. 


A Simple Soup Recipe

The next time you crave a bowl of soup, try this method.  

Step 1: Heat a sizeable thick-bottom soup pot over medium flame.

Step 2: On the side, sauté your veggies (for example, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, etc.) in a saucepan to soften them. You can add some butter or olive oil if required. 

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Step 3: Similarly, cook your meat

Step 4: Once the veggies and meat are slightly cooked, transfer them along with the base (stock) to the soup pot. Season this mix as well. 

Step 5: Simmer the contents for an hour or two. 

Step 6: Taste the soup and adjust the spices to taste. 

Step 7: You can add a dash of fresh cream or milk before serving. 

Step 8: Garnish the soup with some fresh herbs and serve hot. 

Note: There are no specific vegetables or meat to add to the soup. Use whatever you have at home to prepare a wholesome bowl of soup. 

Types of Soup

There are different types of soups based on their consistency and serving temperature. 

Thin Soups

A thin soup doesn’t contain any thickening agent. It can be classified into clear soup, broth (or bouillon), consommé, and chunky soup.

Thick Soups

A thick soup is thickened using ingredients such as refined flour, vegetables, corn starch, cream, gelatines, etc. Classify thick soups into a bisque, cream, condensed, velouté, pureed, and potage. 

Cold Soups

Cold soups are prepared with fresh fruits and veggies. Usually served in summers, vichyssoise and gazpacho are the two popular cold soups. 

National Soups

Soups that represent the region of origin are called national soups. These can be thin, thick, or cold. Examples are mulligatawny (Southern India), green turtle soup (England), French onion soup (France), etc. 

What is a Stew?

A stew is another liquid-based dish consisting of meat and veggies tendered in a thick liquid following a long cooking method. A stew’s key characteristics include its solid ingredients. Partially cover these main ingredients in the liquid (stock or broth).

Although a stew is a complete meal, it’s generally paired with mashed potatoes, noodles, brown rice, or polenta. 

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Usually, stews are not overly spicy and rarely include fresh chilies or chili powder. Thus, if you want a spicy stew with heavy use of chilies, go for the traditional chili


A Simple Stew Recipe

Are you looking for single-pot comfort food that’s easy to make and full of veggies and meat? You must try this beef stew recipe then!

Step 1: Take a large bowl and toss your beef stew meat with salt, pepper, and refined flour. Make sure to coat the meat from all sides. 

Step 2: Transfer this coated beef stew meat to the main deep pot on a low flame. Slightly cook the beef from all sides. Don’t overcook the meat, as this will ruin its texture and your stew. 

Step 3: Add the thick tomato puree, onions, garlic, and other veggies you like. Season the mix and let it cook on low flame.

Step 4: Once ready, throw the herbs on top. Serve hot. 

Note: The cuts of meat play a crucial role in your stew. This example uses stew meat since it has many connective tissues (namely, chuck). These tissues break down during slow cooking and become melt-in-mouth tender. 

Types of Stew

Unlike soups, stews are mainly classified based on the meat used. 

Some popular stews are:

  • Beef Bourguignon
  • Goulash
  • Lamb Stew
  • Chicken Stew
  • Jambalaya

Note: Some popular vegetable stews are African peanut stew, lentil stew, curry, sweet potato stew, etc. 

Soup vs. Stew – Some Key Differences

Despite having common ingredients (meat, veggies, and stock/broth), soups and stews differ on multiple other parameters. These are:

Amount of Liquid

The soup has more liquid due to smaller solid food particles that have either been wholly cooked or removed after flavor extraction. 

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In a stew, on the other hand, you get less liquid and more solid stuff. This is due to the uncooked bigger solid food particles.

Type of Food

Due to more liquid and less solid food, soup is a proper liquid meal. Thus, it may or may not be a complete meal. 

On the other hand, a stew is a complete meal combining more solid food and liquid. 

Consistency of the Liquid

Soup has a thinner liquid because it doesn’t require a thickening agent. A stew, in contrast, uses thickening agents (for example, flour, vegetables, gelatines, etc.) to give the liquid a thicker consistency. 

Serving Temperature

Soups can be served hot or cold, unlike stews always served piping hot. 

Soup vs. Stew – Comparison Table

The following table summarizes the differences between a soup and stew. 

Soup vs. Stew
More liquid Amount Of Liquid Less liquid
Liquid Type of Food Solid and liquid
Thin Consistency of the Liquid Thick
Hot or cold Serving Temperature Always hot

Soup or Stew 

The terms “soup” and “stew” are used interchangeably, but both dishes have a distinct identity and purpose. 

If you want to sip more broth and chew fewer solids, go for a soup. Otherwise, try a stew. You can spice up your stew with chili powder or fresh chilis to get a kick out of it. 

So, what’s cooking tonight: soup or stew?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Are The Best Soup Recipes?

Some of the best soup recipes are chicken noodle soup, classic vegetable soup, 15 bean soup, taco soup, etc. 

Are Chilies And Stews The Same Thing?

Yes, chilies and stews mean the same. The main difference between the two is the level of spice used. While chilies contain more herbs, stews contain fewer of them. 

Can I Turn Soup Into A Stew? 

You can turn your soup into a stew by replacing the excess liquid with more solid food items, such as meat, veggies, etc. 


Vanessa is passionate about written communication, especially after beginning her career as a middle school English teacher. She’s an experienced content marketer as well. Vanessa loves to analyze, compare, and contrast, which is why she writes for ContrastHub. Besides writing, Vanessa is a wife, mom, entrepreneur, spicy food enthusiast, comedy nerd and lifelong learner.

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