There are many ways to differentiate a soup from a stew: the liquid-to-ingredient ratio, for example, or the size at which said ingredients are cut. But let’s put the technical factors aside for a moment and take a slightly less tangible approach: for starters, the soup invites you to put on a light cardigan and take comfort at the dining room table, while the stew prefers you you slipped into your most odious stitches. – a turtleneck so thick you can barely see over it, for example – and sit next to a crackling fire. If the soup suggests you get on with your day, the stew wants you to lick your bowl free of its long-simmering sauce, then (please) take the nap you’ve been craving for weeks.
Simply put: whether meaty or vegan, complex or as humble as it gets, stews offer a kind of extreme comfort that few other dishes can. Here are 15 of our favorites, each one worth pulling out your beefiest turtleneck.
The introduction to this article was written by Lindsay Anderson, while the descriptions for each recipe were written by Serious Eats staff and contributors.