What Is the Difference Between Soup and Stew?

Last Updated on March 31, 2023 by Lauren Beck

Soup and stew are two popular dishes that have been enjoyed for centuries across different cultures. Although they are both similar in many ways, there are some key differences between the two. 

Some people use the terms soup and stew interchangeably, but there are subtle differences that set them apart. 

In this article, we will explore the difference between soup and stew, and some other common questions that arise around these two dishes.

Difference Between Soup and Stew:

Soup and stew are both liquid dishes that are made by cooking ingredients in liquid. However, the main difference between soup and stew lies in the consistency and the method of cooking. 

Soup is a thin, watery, and typically savory liquid that is made by boiling meat, vegetables, or grains in water or broth. 

Stew, on the other hand, is a thicker, heartier, and more substantial dish made by simmering meat, vegetables, or grains in a liquid for an extended period.

What is Soup?

Soup is a liquid dish made by cooking ingredients in water or broth. The base of the soup is usually made of meat, vegetables, or grains, and is flavored with herbs and spices. 

Soups can be served as a starter or a main dish and can be hot or cold. Some popular soups include tomato soup, chicken noodle soup, minestrone soup, and pumpkin soup.

What is Stew?

Stew is a dish made by simmering meat, vegetables, or grains in a liquid for an extended period. The liquid used for stew is usually thicker than the one used for soup, and the dish is typically heartier and more substantial. 

Stew is often served as a main dish and can be served with bread, rice, or mashed potatoes. Some popular stews include beef stew, chicken stew, and vegetable stew.

Can You Turn Soup Into Stew?

Yes, it is possible to turn soup into stew by adding more ingredients and letting it simmer for a longer time. To turn soup into stew, you can add more vegetables, meat, or grains, and let it simmer for a longer period until the liquid has thickened. 

Stew requires a longer cooking time to allow the flavors to meld together, and the ingredients to become tender.

At What Point Does a Soup Become a Stew?

Soup becomes stew when the liquid has thickened and the ingredients have cooked for a longer period. The line between soup and stew is not always clear-cut, and the distinction can be somewhat subjective. 

In general, a soup can be considered a stew when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and the ingredients have cooked for a longer time.

Is Chili Considered a Soup or a Stew?

homemade chili

Chili is considered to be a stew rather than a soup. It is a thick and hearty dish made with meat, beans, and spices that are cooked for a long time. 

Chili is often served with toppings such as cheese, sour cream, and onions, and is commonly eaten with cornbread or crackers.

What Is the Soup Called That Has Everything in It?

The soup that has everything in it is called “stone soup.” The story of stone soup originated from an old folktale, in which hungry travelers come to a village and convince the villagers to contribute to a pot of soup. 

The travelers add a stone to the pot, and each villager contributes vegetables, meat, and grains until the soup is a hearty and delicious meal.

Why Put Vinegar in Stews?

Vinegar is often added to stews to tenderize the meat and add a tangy flavor [1]. The acid in the vinegar breaks down the tough fibers in the meat and makes it more tender. Vinegar can also help to balance the flavors in the stew and add a bright, tangy note.

Do You Use Stock or Broth for Stew?

Both stock and broth can be used for stew, depending on personal preference and availability. Stock is made by simmering bones and vegetables, while broth is made by simmering meat and vegetables. 

Stock has a richer flavor and is more gelatinous due to the collagen extracted from the bones, while broth is lighter in color and flavor. Some people prefer to use a combination of stock and broth for their stews to balance the flavors.

What Is the Healthiest Soup in the World?

There is no single soup that can be considered the healthiest in the world, as it depends on the ingredients used and the preparation method. 

However, many soups that are made with nutrient-rich vegetables, legumes, and lean proteins can be considered healthy. Some examples include vegetable soup, lentil soup, chicken noodle soup, and tomato soup.

What Is the Best Soup to Eat Everyday?

The best soup to eat every day is one that is balanced and provides essential nutrients. A soup that contains lean protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and a variety of vegetables is a good choice. 

Some examples include chicken and vegetable soup, lentil soup, and minestrone soup. It’s important to choose soups that are low in sodium and added sugars, as these can be detrimental to health if consumed in excess.


Soup and stew are both delicious and nutritious dishes that can be enjoyed throughout the year. While there are some subtle differences between the two, they are both made by cooking ingredients in liquid and are perfect for warming up on a cold day. Whether you prefer a light and savory soup or a hearty and substantial stew, there is a recipe out there that will suit your taste buds. By understanding the differences between soup and stew and learning how to make them, you can enjoy these classic dishes in all their delicious glory.


Lauren Beck
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