Soup and Stew Recipes
Thom's Recipe File
Soup is a savory liquid food that is made
by boiling ingredients, such as meat, vegetables and beans instock
or hot water, until the flavor is extracted, forming a broth. Boiling was
not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers
about 5,000 years ago.
Over the centuries, the terms gruel a thin
porridge and potage have become separated from broth, and stock and their
refinement, consommι, have all been used to describe this pot-boiling
cooking method. The terms have shifted over time,
the modern definition of soup and
stew were established in the eighteenth century.
Soups usually are more liquid, while stews are thicker; contain more solid
ingredients. Stews are cooked in covered containers for longer periods
of time, at a gentle boil with less water and at a lower heat.
Traditionally, soup is classified into two
broad groups: clear soups and thick soups. The established French
classifications of clear soups are bouillon and consommι. Thick soups are
classified depending upon the type of thickening agent used: purιes, which
are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from purιed
shellfish thickened with cream; cream soups are thickened with bιchamel
sauce; and veloutιs are thickened with eggs, butter and cream. Other
ingredients to thicken soups and broths include rice, flour, and grains.
A stew is a common food made of vegetables and meat in
some sort of broth or sauce. The line between stew and soup is a fine
one, but generally a stew's ingredients are cut in larger pieces, and a stew
is more likely to be eaten as a main course than as a starter. There
are exceptions though an oyster stew is more like a soup, for example.
Stewing has a long tradition in cookery. Popular recipes for regional
stews, such as gumbo, bouillabaisse, Brunswick stew, and burgoo, became
common during the 19th century and have increased in popularity during
the 20th century.
The best soups are made with a base of homemade stock and fresh ingredients.
Obviously this can be a time-consuming endeavor. You can reduce your time in
the kitchen by using canned or frozen broths or bouillon bases. Even so,
plan on taking your time with a good soup or stew.
Soup and Stew Tips...
These tips are from About.com Home Cooking and they are found at
Fresh ingredients are best, but some canned or
frozen vegetables will work well, such as peas, green beans and corn.
A hot soup will help recondition the palate between
meal courses or after consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Ideally, cold soups should be served in chilled dishes.
If the soup is not intended as the main course, you can count on 1 quart
to serve 6. As a main dish, plan on 2 servings per quart.
Since liquids boil at a lower temperature at high altitudes, you may need
to extend recipe cooking times at altitudes above 2500 feet.
To reduce the fat content, make the soup the day before, chill and scrape
off the fat that rises to the top.
If you don't have time to chill the soup, use an unprinted paper towel to
soak up oil from the surface.
Savory soups and stews always taste better if made a day or two in advance
and reheated just before serving.
Check seasonings of cold soups just before serving as chilled foods tend
to dull the taste buds and will need more seasoning than hot soups.
If your hot soup ends up slightly salty, add a whole, peeled potato to the
soup and simmer for about 15 minutes to absorb salt. Remove the potato and
serve. (Save the potato for the cook's treat!)
Be aware that
herbs will have a more intense flavor if added at the end of the
long cooking process.
Wine is a great flavor addition to soups and stews. When using wine
or alcohol in soup, use less
as the wine tends to intensify saltiness. Wine should be added at a ratio of
no more than 1/4 cup of wine to 1 quart of soup.
Beer is also a good addition to soups and stews. A good rule of
thumb is 1 cup of beer to 3 cups of soup.
Is it soup or chowder or bisque or ...?
Whether you are experiencing warm weather or cold
weather right now, there is a soup just perfect for your climate. A
steaming bowl of hearty soup can warm you to your toes in winter, while
a bowl of classic chilled gazpacho or a fruit soup is
perfect for those hot summer days. The spotlighted soup and stew
recipes can serve as appetizers, main dishes and even
Soup and Stew Definitions
It may seem rather silly to define soup, since it
is so elementary. However, do you know what gazpacho,
bouillabaisse or bisque are? What's the difference between a
soup and a stew or consommι and bouillon?
Take a look at this soup glossary of some common and
not-so-common variations on the soup theme.
The best method to thicken most soups and stews is
to remove some of the cooked vegetables, puree in a blender, and return the
pureed mixture to the pot.
If you are short on veggies or there are none in your soup, make a paste
of flour mixed with twice as much cold stock, milk or water. Add the
paste and stir slowly at a simmer for about 5-10 minutes. The ratio is 1-1/2
teaspoons of flour to 1 cup of soup.
A roux of butter and flour can also be used as a thickener. The longer the
roux is cooked, the darker and more flavorful it becomes.
Cream is another alternative to not only thicken soup, but to also add a
A cornstarch slurry of 1 part cornstarch to 2 parts liquid will also
thicken, but should not be boiled because it will break down.