When we’re craving something comforting, there’s nothing better than a big bowl of soup, stew, or chili. Warm, hearty, and easy to make. While we may rely on these meals throughout the colder months, we didn’t really understand the difference between the three. So, we did some research to learn the real difference between soup, stew, and chili. The main difference between soups and stews is the amount of liquid they have. Soups contain enough liquid to fill a bowl and allow the ingredients to float, while stews contain just a little bit of cooking liquid to simmer the other ingredients. Chilli is considered a type of stew because of its low liquid content and is usually made with chili peppers or chili powder.
So what is soup?
Soup is a liquid-based dish where ingredients like vegetables, meats, or legumes, or even a combination of the three, are boiled together in water or a broth to merge and heighten the dish’s flavors. There can be many types of soups, from creamy tomato to blended pumpkin, but the main feature of soup is that there’s a lot more liquid. You will know you have soup if it has to be eaten with a spoon and served in a bowl or cup.
What is stew?
Stew is a dish where typically bigger pieces of vegetables and meat are partially submerged, but not floating in the cooking liquid, and then simmered until all the ingredients are tender and the liquid has thickened enough. The cooking liquid can be a stock or broth, like in a soup or even tomato juice. And, while some stews include meat, it can also be vegetarian. Many stews are accompanied by a starchy side like rice, noodles, or polenta, but you can certainly eat it on its own.
So what is chili?
Traditional chili is a kind of spicy stew that typically contains ground meat and chili seasoning, plus beans and tomato. There’s a lot of variation when it comes to chili, and it depends on the use of fresh chilis and/or chili powder. Chili can be made with pretty much any meat or vegetarian, with or without beans, be tomato- or broth-based, and stuffed with veggies.