There are plenty of ways to differentiate a soup from a stew—the ratio of liquid to ingredients, for example, or the size to which said ingredients are cut. But let’s put technical factors aside for a moment, and take a slightly less tangible approach: For starters, soup invites you to slide into a light cardigan and find comfort at the dining room table, while stew prefers you slip into your most obnoxiously thick knitwear—a turtleneck so chunky you can barely see over the top, for example—and settle in next to a roaring fire. If soup suggests you get on with your day, stew wants you to lick your bowl clean of its long-simmered sauce, then (please) take that nap you’ve been dreaming about for weeks.
That is to say: Whether meaty or vegan, complex or as humble as can be, stews offer a kind of extreme comfort that few other dishes can. Here are 15 of our favorites, each worth digging out your beefiest turtleneck for.
Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Stew With Red Wine, Mushrooms, & Bacon)
“One of the most delicious beef stews concocted by man,” according to Julia Child, and we agree. Here we cook the stew with large pieces of aromatic vegetables, then discard those in favor of fresh diced and lightly sautéed ones later, yielding a flavorful stew with vegetables that haven’t been cooked to death.
Soondubu Jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
Kimchi, small dried anchovies, gochujang, and Korean chile flakes (all of which can be found in most Asian supermarkets) build complex layers of flavor in the broth—even though it all comes together in a remarkably short amount of time.
Hearty One-Pot Black-Eyed Pea Stew With Kale and Andouille
Cooked in one pot, this easy-to make, easy-to-clean stew is perfect for a lazy Sunday. Not only that, but it becomes even more flavorful overnight in the fridge.
Colombian Chicken Stew With Potatoes, Tomato, and Onion
Ready to eat in just 30 minutes, this deceptively-simple Colombian stew is made in a pressure cooker without any added water; the end result is tender meat that falls off the bone and a richly-flavored broth with concentrated chicken and tomato flavors.
Cioppino (San Francisco Seafood Stew)
Good cioppino starts with a rich broth and ends with perfectly cooked fish. In this recipe, we carefully sequence the poaching of each type of seafood, then serve it with a roasted red pepper salsa that adds even more layers of flavor to SF’s most famous stew.
All-American Beef Stew
Liberated from the strong opinions tied to ‘authentic’ beef bourguignon and goulash, American beef stew is open to much wider interpretations. Here, we opt for tender beef and vegetables coated in an intense, umami-rich sauce.
Traditional French Cassoulet
Here come the French with another famous meaty stew, this time a combination of poultry, sausage, pork, and beans all melded together under a rich, dark brown crust.
Classic Oyster Stew With Fennel
While it’s not thick like a clam chowder or hearty like a beef stew, this oyster stew manages to soothe in its own perfectly restrained way; it’s also one of the simplest and quickest cold-weather comforts to prepare.
This classic Provençal stew allows ripe, late-summer produce to shine. Cooking the vegetables separately allows you to control perfectly the level of doneness for each one; simmering them together then briefly melds their flavors.
Goulash (Hungarian Beef and Paprika Stew)
This old-fashioned goulash is loaded with vegetables, beef, and its famous signature—sweet Hungarian paprika—making for a hearty winter meal.
Braised Pork and Bean Stew With Cinnamon, Fennel, and Onion
Near-melted beans and spoon-tender pork are just the thing for a cold evening.
Quick and Easy Pressure Cooker Chicken and Black Bean Stew
This easy, one-pot meal is packed with flavor and ready in under an hour. We stew black beans in the pressure cooker with spicy Hatch chiles, smoky andouille sausage, and chicken legs. The final product is rich and the chicken fall-off-the-bone tender.
Ribollita (Hearty Tuscan Bean, Bread, and Vegetable Stew)
This hearty Tuscan riff on minestrone is loaded with tender vegetables and beans, and differentiates itself by being thickened with bread. The final consistency can be adjusted by leaving the stew more broth-y, or by cooking it down into a thicker porridge.
Nigerian Beef Stew
A mainstay of many Nigerian meals, there are countless ways to make this ultra-flavorful dish. Here we start by cooking beef chuck in a seasoned broth, then reserve the resulting stock to cook the stew; to further deepen the beef’s flavor, we roast it before adding it to the pot.
Real Bouillabaisse (Bouillabaisse Marseillaise)
Bouillabaisse (pronounced “BOO-ya-bess”) is a rustic fish stew from the Provençal port city of Marseille. Aside from the variety of fish, it’s defined by a handful of key ingredients and flavors: floral saffron, sweet and anise-y fennel, and a subtle note of orange zest.