Outdoor Soups & Stews

Soups vs. Stews
Soups are similar to stews, but in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two. Generally, stews have less liquid than soups, require longer cooking times over low heat and when finished have a much thicker consistency. While soups are almost always served in a bowl, stews may be thick enough to be served on a plate with the gravy acting as the sauce.

Soup is primarily a “liquid food,” served warm or cool to cold, containing ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water or another liquid. Hot soups are characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavors are extracted, forming a broth.

Traditionally, soups are classified into two main groups: clear and thick. The established French classifications of clear soups are bouillon and consommé. Thick soups are classified depending upon the type of thickening agent used. Many popular soups also include carrots and potatoes.

A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resulting gravy. Ingredients in a stew typically include meat, especially tougher cuts like beef chuck, that’s ideal for slow cooking, and any combination of vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, onions, beans, peppers and tomatoes. Fish, seafood, poultry and sausage can also be used.

The liquid for stews can be wine, stock or beer. Additional seasoning and flavorings are also typically added. Stews are cooked at a relatively low temperature (simmered, not boiled), allowing flavors to intermingle, thereby creating more complex tastes.

Stews may be thickened by reduction or with flour, either by coating pieces of meat with flour before searing, or by adding a roux or beurre manié (kneaded dough consisting of equal parts of butter and flour) during the cooking process. Thickeners like cornstarch or arrowroot may also be used.

Crappie Noodle Soup

1 cup cooked crappies, flaked

2 medium-sized carrots

1 quart water

1 celery stalk

1 small onion, cut into thin wedges

1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon granules

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Cayenne pepper, few dashes (Optional, for an extra kick)

1/2 cup uncooked, narrow-width egg noodles

Cut carrots into diagonal slices. Cut celery into thin slices. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine carrots, water, celery, onion, parsley, bouillon granules, salt, thyme and pepper. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add noodles and return to boil. Cook until noodles are tender, or 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in crappies. Simmer 1 minute. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Beer Cheese Soup

8 cups milk

2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce or Louisiana Hot Sauce

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

4 tablespoons chicken base

16 ounces Cheeze Whiz

6 tablespoons cornstarch

1/3 cup water

1 cup beer

Cayenne pepper

Combine milk, Tabasco, Worcestershire and chicken base. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Warm Cheeze Whiz in hot water or in microwave, and then stir in. Mix well. Dissolve cornstarch completely in the water. Add to soup, which should thicken immediately. Reduce heat. Stir in beer. To serve, ladle into bowls and dust with cayenne pepper. Makes 6 servings.

Fish Stew I

1 pound crappie fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons butter

1 large leek, cleaned, thinly sliced

1/2 cup sliced shallots

3/4 cup white wine

1 1/4 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb

1 pound baby red potatoes

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leek, shallots and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the melted butter. Cook 10 to 15 minutes. Stir wine into leek mixture, increase heat to medium, and cook for 2 additional minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add fennel and potatoes. Simmer, stirring occasionally until potatoes are almost tender, or 10 minutes. Add salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir in cream and combine well. Add fish and tarragon into the soup. Cover. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir gently and reduce heat to medium-low and cook an additional 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Add more cayenne pepper (optional) for more heat.

Fish Stew II

1 to 1 1/2 pounds crappie fillets (cut into 2-inch pieces)

4 large garlic cloves cut into halves

4 anchovy fillets, soaked in water for 4 minutes, drained and rinsed*

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste

1 can (28 ounces) of chopped tomatoes, with liquid

1 quart water

1 pound small new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered or sliced

A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf

Freshly ground pepper

Place cut garlic cloves and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt in a mortar and pestle. Mash to a paste. Add the anchovy fillets and mash with the garlic. Set aside. Heat olive oil over a medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add onion, celery, carrot and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook, stirring until the onion is tender, or about 5 minutes. Add the pureed garlic and anchovies. Cook, stirring until the mixture is very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Stir often until tomatoes have cooked down, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the water, potatoes, kosher salt (to taste) and the bouquet garni (bundle of herbs tied together with kitchen string or put in a sachet of cheesecloth). Bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low. Cover partially and simmer 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Remove the bouquet garnish. Season the fish with the salt and pepper. Place into soup and stir. Simmer (soup should not boil) 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets, or just until it flakes easily with a fork. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley. Taste the stew once more, adjusting seasonings if needed. Makes 4 servings.

*I like to eat anchovies straight from the can. Some folks don’t like anchovies, but in this case, keep them in the recipe. They add a depth of flavor and omega-3 fatty acids—don’t worry, the stew won’t taste like anchovies.

Recently, Vernon Summerlin has begun publishing Kindle eBooks on Amazon. He plans to publish a short fishing book once a week. Larger books and other topics of his are in the works. You can search amazon.com and type in “Vernon Summerlin.” Please send any thoughts, requests, etc. to vsummerlin@comcast.net.