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Difference Between Soup and Stew

Soup vs Stew

There are many ways to prepare food. It can be steamed, boiled, broiled, baked, pickled, or roasted. Two of the most common foods made by boiling and simmering are soup and stew. These are suitable to be eaten during cold weather as they are best consumed while hot.

Soup is a liquid food preparation which is made of meat, fish, vegetables, stock, water, and other ingredients. It is served hot and prepared by boiling and simmering all ingredients. Man has been known to consume soup as early as 6000 BC using clay containers or animals skin pouches in cooking. The French popularized it by extolling it as a cure for physical burnout or fatigue. They classified soup as thin (bouillon and consommé) and thick (purees, bisques, and creams). Thick soups use starches, grains, lentils, eggs, butter, and cream as thickening ingredients.

Soups are usually served before a meal as an appetizer but can also be served as a snack. They are made mostly of liquid with other ingredients which are boiled in a pot to extract the different flavors and make a broth. The word “soup” comes from the French word “soupe” which means “soup or broth.” It was derived from the Vulgar Latin word “suppa” and the Germanic word “sop” which means “bread soaked in broth.”

A similar food preparation which uses less liquid and is thicker than soup is stew. It is more a gravy than a broth containing more solid ingredients which can include meat, potatoes, and other vegetables. The usual liquids used in cooking stews are wine, stock, and sometimes beer. Stews use more solid ingredients such as tough meat than liquid. It is thickened by adding flour or cornstarch to the soup or by coating ingredients with it.

While soups require little time to cook, stews are cooked slowly over low heat and for a longer period of time. This allows the complete blending of the flavors of all their ingredients giving them a characteristic flavor. While soup is served as an appetizer or dessert, a stew is more of a main dish. It is served on a plate with the gravy poured over solid ingredients like a sauce unlike soup which must be served in a bowl.

It has been known to have existed since ancient times cooked in mollusk or turtle shells. Roman and French cuisine are rich in recipes for stews, especially lamb, beef, and fish stews. The word “stew” comes from the Middle English word “stewe” which means “heated room.” It is derived from the Vulgar Latin word “extufa” and the Anglo-French word “estuve.” It had been used to refer to a vessel for cooking in the 14th century.


1.Soup is a liquid food preparation which contains small amounts of solid ingredients and more liquid while stew is a food preparation which contains less liquid and more solid ingredients.
2.Soup is served before a meal or as a dessert while stew is a main course.
3.Soup needs less time to cook since it contains more liquid while a stew needs a longer time to cook slowly over low heat.
4.Since a stew has less liquid and is more like a gravy than a broth, it can be served on a plate while soup must always be served in a bowl.

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