one man's ceiling
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
  definition please: stew vs. soup
lately i've been running across this problem where a recipe refers to itself as a stew and the final product is more of a soup, and vice versa. the american heritage dictionary (via gives us this definition for soup:
A liquid food prepared from meat, fish, or vegetable stock combined with various other ingredients and often containing solid pieces.
and then turns around and gives us this one for stew:
A dish cooked by stewing, especially a mixture of meat or fish and vegetables with stock. A mixture likened to this dish
so is it all just a matter of how much time is involved in the cooking process? does cooking something longer, essentially to stew it, define what it is? if so, what am i to make of a quick stew that is soup-like, or a chili that sits more like a stew?
n 1: ground beef and chili peppers or chili powder often with tomatoes and kidney beans [syn: chili con carne]
trust me, i've seen chilis and chili recipes that had NONE of these ingredients in them.

the question is: who gets to define what?
I always considered the cooking method to be a little different. And as far as the definitions go, traditionally, I guess it goes back to French cuisine, but the versions we think of now are so much different.. now it's generally stew is thicker and soup is thinner.

Anyway, stews tend to require slow gentle cooking, ans are usally comprised of tough meats and wintery vegetables. So low heat and long cooking times, ala braising.

Soups tend to be higher temps, faster cooking times, and thinner in stock. That's just my opinion. But as far as who gets to decide, isnt it always the French?
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