What is the different between a soup and a stew?

What is the different between a soup and a stew? Is the liquid consistency the only difference?

Sarah D
  • Posted by: Sarah D
  • September 16, 2013


PazzoNico September 20, 2013
Ok; original question.
First, yes; soups (in general) contain and require more liquid than a stew. This can be water, stock, wine, or a combination (even juice for cold or fruit based soups. i.e. gazpacho). They usually require a MUCH shorter cooking time so as to maintain the integrity and freshness of the ingredients (veg., fruit, etc.). There *are* variations of thin and thick soups (think consomme and, say, lentil soup, for example). Still, these are soups since they are only cooked long enough for the ingredients to *just* be cooked through. Leaving them whole or pureeing (or clarifying) is a matter of preference and the recipe.
Stews, as mentioned, are reserved (most often) for ingredients that require a long, slow cook (at a low temp.) in order to break them down and tenderize them (i.e. beef stew). A cheap, tough cut of meat is used; the amount of connective tissue needs time to sort of "melt" down and become tender. Obviously, other ingredients are added (like veg.) for flavor and texture. Another distinction is the fact that a stew is served with the "gravy" that's left after the cooking process. It can thickened by way of reduction or thickening agents. And normally, stew is served as a main course (soup can be an app., first course, main, even dessert). Oh, and stews typically require less liquid than soup since the abundance of meat and aromatics are the "main event" rather than the liquid.
Then, of course, we have that "purgatory" stage that falls somewhere in between the two...I think that's a stoup. ;)
Panfusine September 20, 2013
The question was about stews & soups..
Why does it have to degenerate into bad mouthing RR, just because you have a negative personal opinion about her Pierino?.
Now if someone can please explain the difference, again, that would be wonderful. Sad that such a relevant query should be lost in this mud slinging.
krusher September 19, 2013
Who let that mask- wearing, disrespectful individual out of his cage? Enough already. It was such an excellent and collaborative environment over recent times. Good manners is not too much to ask surely.
ChefOno September 19, 2013

Well put, MTMitchell. Yet even with that acknowledgment, I don't believe Pierino goes far enough regarding RR's indiscriminate use of "EVOO". It's simply not the right tool for every job and can be downright harmful when abused.

As healthful as it may be in its raw form, heating not only destroys olive oil's fragile nutritive components, it induces rapid oxidization of the unsaturated fat molecules releasing free radicals, a long-term health hazard (i.e. cancer). Beginning around 300F straight-up toxic substances begin to form and by 375F, if it's not smoking up your kitchen -- and especially if it is -- the oil's antioxidants will have been replaced by peroxides, aldehydes and ketones which then end up in your food.

But back to the original subject:

Words are important tools of communication. In order for them to successfully convey our thoughts, we must all be on the same page, specifically the same dictionary page. When a culinary definition of "stoup" appears in the OED, I'll drop my objection to its use. Until then, the word is less than useful and only partly because few have even heard the term.

The idea that a stew is just thick soup ignores the method involved -- slow cooking. If a soup is thin and a stew is thick, then what would you call the product of stewing? Most importantly, ignoring the method means the concept is lost, a giant step backwards in anyone's culinary education and implementation. It's too bad RR was not savvy enough to such an intelligent question as Sara D did here.


Voted the Best Reply!

Bevi September 19, 2013
I wonder if the food sticks going down, to *those* of you who have been *entrusted* to represent this site by the editors at food52, who surely didn't award you that title so you could make snarky remarks about others in the food business from your cowardly, disguised, churlish perch.
David September 18, 2013
Most on here would like to trade places with RR and make $17 million a year for what She does.
pierino September 19, 2013
David, what does she "do" except yammer? Did you know that you that you can actually buy a Rachael Ray endorsed, Food Network "Garbage Bowl"? I'm not making this up, I've seen it.
MTMitchell September 17, 2013
When I was working an odd schedule and wasn't very confident in my cooking skills (because I didn't really have any) and wanted to not eat take out every night RR helped me put some decent meals together for myself. Do I love her idiosyncrasies? No, I frankly find them annoying. But I appreciated how accessible she made putting a quick meal together, especially since it was just me. So while I can see how trained chefs and culinary experts can't stomach RR, she has made cooking accessible for a lot of people who maybe otherwise wouldn't try. Consider her like a gateway drug to more sophisticated culinary experiments. And if people don't ever graduate beyond RR let's just be glad people are at least cooking for themselves (even if it's not what everyone else would choose to make).
pierino September 17, 2013
Well said MT. This probably the wrong forum for this, but then we don't have an alternate. I love your comment about RR being a "gateway drug." When I first watched 30 Minute Meals I thought it was supposed to be a kids show, with all the bright colors, her hand jive and eye rolling. The problem for me is that so much of what she tells people is factually inaccurate, and sometimes in a scary way. Back to EVOO. She waived her sausage like digits in the air and said, "oh that just means it's unfiltered." And that statement is not even remotely close to the truth if you actually have any knowledge of how olive oil is produced. But of course she's happy to slap her face on any cheapola, dime store product as long as she get's a check at the end of the day. Remember "her" knives? They kept falling apart, but hey, it's a payday for RR. Flay does much of the same thing but at least he's a real restaurant owner and real chef and the products he puts his name on are good quality.
MTMitchell September 18, 2013
Wrong information is not helpful. That doesn't teach anyone anything of value, and I'm sure I bought into stuff she said then that I would think was crazy now. So she could be a better gateway drug with more accurate information that people can use to build better knowledge and more skills. Also she could yell less. And I wish she'd go back to being less gimmicky (she's like the Michael Jordan of food and cooking product endorsements). So maybe my view is that old RR helped me (and I bet lots of other people) ease into a routine of making a nice meal for myself and figuring out some kitchen basics and laying down a foundation for bigger culinary efforts, and I wish she'd have stayed in that space (with correct and accurate info!).
lapadia September 18, 2013
Right on, MTM! Thanks for your comment.
MTMitchell September 18, 2013
PazzoNico September 17, 2013
I'll just say it: Rachel Ray's "cutesy" words and nicknames don't bother me as much as her (seemingly) obnoxious personality. Granted, I don't know her personally, and I'm going to assume nobody here does either (which makes me wonder why people are defending her so passionately; like she's a close friend or something..?). I've watched her shows and her need to just be center of attention (particularly on her talk show)just irks me. Her increasing fame over the past couple of years seems to have made her more of a "product" than a person. I can't respect that. It's more about the money for her than the food (it seems).

That said, I do respect all the work she's done with kids and animals (separately, not together. heh).
amysarah September 17, 2013
Seriously, if we're going to gripe about popular terminology, 'wife beater' is way more offensive than 'stoup.'

Regardless, my mother made lentil soup so thick and full of beef that it was almost fork-able. She used the term 'stoup' years ago - and RR wasn't even on her radar, let alone an influence. Sometimes hybrids just make sense, like a Labradoodle.
ChefJune September 17, 2013
We called those melanges "stoup" LOOOONG before Rachael Ray ever thought of being on tv. Maybe before she was even born! We're Jewish, so we're not into holy water. Okay?
pierino September 17, 2013
And all this time I thought the stoup was something you sit outside on in a wife beater when the weather is hot, hot and humid.
PazzoNico September 16, 2013
A "stoup" is a basin for holy water that you dip your fingers in to bless yourself upon entering and exiting a church. Just thought I should clarify that for everyone (and "Rach").
sexyLAMBCHOPx September 16, 2013
Also, when you put down RR's use of EVOO, you disrespect many F2er's that use acronym for Extra Virgin Oil. If its her personality that drives you to criticize her and put her down, you need to look at your righteous, abrasive, trying to be Chang-ish personality. With culinary love, Chops (& owns a gas grill). : )
sexyLAMBCHOPx September 16, 2013
Careful Pierno, our beloved Merrill has a recipe that called a "stoup". And she is certainly not stupid. Check it out: http://food52.com/recipes/7634-chicken-stoup Sincerely, RR fan and admirer of strong woman making a name for themselves, and appealing to the masses.
pierino September 16, 2013
I agree with ChefOno and don't get me started on Rachael Ray and her "stoup" because she is REALLY stoupid. A soup can be made in a jiffy depending on what you are doing. Stews by nature have a longer cooking time because you are typically breaking down meat fiber as you would in a braise.
Panfusine September 20, 2013
How does one 'unlike' if the button is pressed by accident?
ChefOno September 16, 2013

Stewing is a method (the results of which are stews). Soup is a description. So, some soups are stews, some stews are soups, but it's not a stew if it wasn't, um, stewed.

JanetFL September 16, 2013
Sarah, to me, stews are usually thicker than soups and can take longer to cook.
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