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Winter warmers: The difference between a stew, soup, stock and broth

Oxtail stew. Picture: Supplied

Oxtail stew. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 27, 2022

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When the temperature drops, everyone loves a big heaping plate of home-made comfort food.

We are referring to those hearty dishes that make your mouth water as soon as you read the title of the recipe.

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Perhaps you are looking for a holiday or weekend entrée or maybe just a cosy night of cooking in your sweatpants. Whatever your motivation, we have you covered with some easy and delicious make-at-home comfort meal recipes that are popular winter warmers.

Below we look at the difference between a stew, soup, stock and broth and some recipes you can try.

Oxtail stew. Picture: Supplied

Stews

A stew is made when vegetables or meat are left to cook in liquid until the food is cooked and the stew thickens. Stews are typically made with larger chunks of meat or vegetables. The liquid used in cooking can be a broth or stock. You can also use richer liquids like wine or beer.

Oxtail stew

Ingredients

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1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 cup of beef stock tube in warm water to melt it

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1 tbs of crushed garlic

Salt and pepper

1tsp barbeque spice

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250ml red wine, any

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 cup of roughly chopped carrots

¼ cup of flour

2 tbs of oil

1 cup of chopped celery

1 tbs of butter

1 tsp of brown sugar

1 large onion

1 cup of freshly chopped tomato

1 sachet of tomato paste

125ml of water

1.5kg oxtail

Method

Season the meat with salt and pepper, barbeque, and dust it with flour.

Flour allows your stew to thicken as it cooks. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, brown the meat on all sides, then set aside.

Through this process, your meat becomes brown and golden even as it cooks, and your meat flavour is retained. in the same pan, once you have taken the meat out, add butter, onion, garlic, celery and carrot, and continuously stirring, add thyme, smoked paprika, cumin, tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar.

Pour in the red wine and beef stock, and allow it to simmer for five minutes.

Add back the meat, coat it in the sauce and then add water and allow it to cook for three hours, checking every 30 minutes to see if it has enough liquid, and if not, taste your food and either add the beef stock liquid or the water.

You can serve this with steamed bread, mashed potatoes or rice

Soups

Unlike stews, soups are typically watery. They can be thin, like a simple onion soup, or thick like a pumpkin soup. While stews should simmer, soups have to boil to allow the ingredients to combine well.

Roasted Thai green sweet potato soup. Picture: Supplied

Roasted Thai green sweet potato soup

Ingredients

250g sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

50g sweet potato, thinly sliced

1 tin coconut cream

500ml vegetable stock

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Thai green curry paste

4 cloves of garlic

2 red onions

7cm piece of fresh ginger

2 lemongrass stalks

2 bird’s eye chillies

2 tsp ground cumin

20g fresh coriander

10g fresh basil

2 tbs fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbs olive oil

1 tsp sesame oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place sweet potatoes on a tray and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for an hour or until soft. Remove from the oven, place in a blender, and purée or mash. Combine all paste ingredients in a blender and purée until incorporated and smooth. Add small amounts of water if the mixture is too thick.

Once combined, place in a pot and bring to a simmer over low heat. Add the stock, coconut cream, and puréed potatoes and mix well. Season to taste.

To make the sweet potato crisps, toss the thin slices in olive oil and season with salt. Bake at 150ºC for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy. Top soup with fresh herbs and serve with chips.

Chicken & winter vegetable broth. Picture: Supplied

Broth

Broth is stock's cousin but has some key differences. Although both stock and broth involve simmering in water, broth uses meat while stock uses bones. As a result, the broth contains very little protein, a key ingredient in building flavour.

Chicken & winter vegetable broth

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Olive oil for cooking

2 carrots, peeled and diced

½ celeriac, peeled and chopped

2 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

1 tsp finely chopped root ginger

2 free-range boneless chicken breasts, about 170g each, skinned and diced

750ml chicken stock

1 bouquet garni

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

50g medium egg noodles

1 tbs chopped parsley

2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

Method

Heat a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat and add 1- 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the carrots and celeriac and mix gently for 2-3 minutes, then add the leeks, fennel, garlic and ginger, and sweat for a further 2-3 minutes.

Now add the diced chicken and stir to combine with the vegetables. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the bouquet garni and salt and pepper. Simmer the broth for 12 minutes. Drop the egg noodles into the stock and cook for 5 minutes or until the noodles are cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Scatter the parsley and spring onions over the broth to serve.

If you’ve had roast chicken for Sunday lunch and have some meat left over, this is an ideal recipe to prepare for lunch early in the week. Strip the meat from the carcass, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate until ready to prepare the soup. Use the carcass to make chicken stock. When you make the soup, dice the leftover chicken and add it with the noodles, just to heat through.

Stock

Stock is a rich, savoury liquid prepared by simmering bones and vegetables in water for hours with herbs and spices until the flavour is extracted. Stock derives its flavour primarily from protein. As a result, the stock is usually a healthier product, delivering a richer mouth feel and deeper flavour than broth.

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