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Soup / Stew Glossary

It may seem rather silly to define soup, since it's so elementary. But, how about gazpacho, bouillabaisse or bisque? What's the difference between a soup and a stew or consommé and bouillon? If you arrived here via a search engine, don't miss my complete article Soup For All Seasons. Below is a list of some common and not-so-common variations on the soup theme. Click on the highlighted links to find a corresponding recipe example. Use your browser's BACK button to navigate between this glossary and the recipe links.

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Bisque a thick, rich soup usually consisting of pureed seafood and cream. Newer recipes may use poultry or vegetables in place of seafood.
Billy bi a French soup made with mussels, onions, wine, cream and seasonings. The classic recipe strains the mussels to leave a smooth soup, but the mussels are often left in as an added bonus these days. (Also "billi-bi")
Bird's Nest a Chinese soup actually made from the white or black nests of a small Asian bird. The nests are difficult to harvest, thus very expensive.
Borscht a soup from Russia and Poland made with fresh beets, assorted vegetables, and sometimes with meat and/or meat stock, usually garnished with a dollop of sour cream and served either hot or cold.
Bouillabaisse a French seafood stew made of fish, shellfish, onions, tomatoes, white wine, olive oil, garlic, saffron and herbs.
Bouillon a broth made from cooking vegetables, poultry, meat or fish in water.
Bourride a Mediterranean fish soup with garlic, onions, orange peel, and sometimes saffron, thickened with egg yolks and flavored with garlic mayonnaise.
Broth a liquid resulting from cooking vegetables, meat or fish in water; same as "bouillon."
Brunswick Stew a hearty squirrel meat and onion stew originating in Brunswick County, Virginia, USA. Modern versions substitute chicken or rabbit for the squirrel and may also add other vegetables such as okra, lima beans, tomatoes and corn.
Burgoo a thick stew of a combination of meats, including pork, veal, beef, lamb and poultry, with various vegetables including potatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, sweet green peppers, corn, okra, lima beans and celery; originally made with small game such as rabbit and squirrel and popular in the Kentucky region of the USA.
Callaloo a Caribbean soup made with callaloo leaves (from taro root), coconut milk, okra, yams and chiles.
Chowder a thick, chunky seafood or other rich soup containing chunks of food.
Cioppino a rich Italian fish stew made with tomatoes and a variety of fish and shellfish, usually highly-spiced.
Consommé clarified meat or fish broth.
Coulis originally this term referred to the juices from cooked meats. It can also be a thick pureed shellfish soup. Nowadays, many different types of thick purees are called coulis, including vegetable and fruit mixtures.
Court-Bouillon a broth made from cooking various vegetables and herbs, usually an onion studded with a few whole cloves, celery, carrots and bouquet garni (parsley, thyme and bay leaf), perhaps with a little wine, lemon juice or vinegar; used as a poaching base for fish, seafood or vegetables.
Fumet a concentrated stock, particularly one made from fish or mushrooms, used to add flavor to less intensely-flavored stocks or sauces.
Gazpacho an uncooked soup made of a pureed mixture of fresh tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, onions, celery, cucumber, bread crumbs, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and sometimes lemon juice which is served cold; also served chunky-style. You may also see this spelled "gaspacho."
Menudo a hearty, spicy Mexican soup made with tripe, calf's feet, chiles, hominy and seasonings reputed to be a great hangover cure.
Minestrone a thick Italian vegetable soup usually containing pasta along with peas or beans and sometimes other vegetables.
Mulligan Stew a stew made literally of what's on hand including meat, potatoes and vegetables in any combination.
Mulligatawny a rich meat or vegetable broth highly seasoned with curry and other spices with bits of poultry or other meats and can include rice, eggs, coconut shreds and/or cream; originally from India.
Irish Stew a stew made of seasoned lamb or mutton chops, potatoes and onions, covered with water or broth and stewed for several hours.
Pepper Pot a thick soup of tripe, meat, vegetables, pepper and seasonings also known as Philadelphia pepper pot.
Posole a Mexican thick, hearty soup made of pork or chicken meat and broth, hominy, onion, garlic, dried chiles and cilantro and served with chopped lettuce, radishes, onions, cheese and cilantro as optional additions at the table.
Potage a French soup usually pureed and often thickened with cream or egg yolks.
Scotch Broth a Scottish soup made with lamb or mutton, barley and various vegetables.
Soup basically any combination of vegetables, fruit, meat, and/or fish cooked in a liquid.
Stew a dish containing meat, vegetables and a thick soup-like broth made from a combination of the stewing liquid and the natural juices of the food being stewed.
Stock strained liquid that is the result of cooking vegetables, meat or fish and other seasonings in water.
Vichyssoise a rich, creamy potato and leek soup garnished with chives and served cold.
Won Ton a Chinese favorite made of won tons (bite-size dumplings filled with a minced mixture of meat, seafood and/or vegetables) cooked in and served in a clear broth flavored with various ingredients such as scallions, celery and soy sauce.

I've been assisted in these definitions by a fabulous culinary dictionary that no serious cook should be without The New Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst (Barrons Educational Series).

Note: These links were all current at the time of this writing. However, it is the nature of web pages to move or disappear. If you find a link here is no longer viable at the time of your reading, please send me email. I will attempt to hunt it down or find a substitute for you.

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