Tag Archives: soup/stew

A stew by any other name…

Growing up, I always had problems telling the difference between soups and stews. My mom’s beef soup looked exactly like her beef stew, except that the soup had noodles. And her wild rice chicken ‘soup’ is thick enough to hold a spoon vertically. Same for every bowl of knoephla soup I’d ever had (all five). My grandmother’s ‘stew’ is a thin, watery broth with star-shaped noodles.

You can see the problem here.

When I got older and started getting interested in cooking (read: was forced into the kitchen by parents who didn’t want brownies as chewy as jerky), my folks would look at me weird when I pulled out the noodles to make beef stew.

And then my parents set me straight:

Soup: /n/ A culinary broth that contains large hunks of meat and vegetables that is served warm. May contain noodles or rice.

Stew: /n/ A culinary broth that contains large hunks of meat and vegetables that is served warm. Does not contain noodles or rice. Broth is often thicker than soup.

Unless your mother tells you otherwise.

See? Vastly different.

This recipe comes from the little cookbook that came with my 1970s crockpot. The same little cookbook that I had to beg, wheedle, and practically arm-wrestle my mother to surrender. My logic: ‘I only have two cookbooks, one that I can’t use because the recipes are worthless! You’d deprive your daughter of a decent cookbook, the very cookbook that came with the very crock that you bequeathed to her, all because you want one single recipe?!’

Daughterly guilt won out.


  • 2 lbs of stew beef (sirloin or round steak), cut into small-ish cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups celery, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, diced
  • 1 large can (1 lb, 12 oz.) of tomatoes, sliced
  • 3-4¬† medium-size potatoes, peeled and cut into hunks
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 whole clove, or 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Mrs Dash, original spice blend (or garlic & herb)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 can (12 oz.) of beer, or 1 1/2 cups of water (for GF)


  1. Trim fat from meat and slice into cubes about 1 inch to 1.5 inches.
  2. Dump all ingredients into a 3 quart crock pot and mix thoroughly.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 12 hours, or high for 5-6 hours. Stir periodically.

Makes about 8-10 servings.

Goes wonderfully with my garlic and cheese biscuits.


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