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Bye Week Power Rankings: Soups and Stews

happy fall everyone

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Photographer: Greg DuPree, Food

I LOVE Fall. It’s my favorite season by a mile for so many reasons. I am perfectly at peace when tailgating a football game in a vest with some orange leaves all around me sometime in October. One of the best things about Fall is all the amazing soups and stews that you can finally eat. Let’s get to it, but first, a quick plug. I will be providing recipes for some of these and all of them will involve using a slow cooker, aka the best tool for stew creation. This is the slow cooker that I use. Hot tip: buy the liners - it makes cleanup a thousand times easier.

Honorable Mentions

White Bean Chicken Chili - Good, but not as good as classic chili nor other chicken-based things.

Minestrone - Tasty, but would I ever choose to order it outside of Olive Garden?

Vegetable Beef - A staple of my childhood because my elementary school cafeteria served it, but there are better things out there.

Bad Soups and Stews

French Onion - Get out of here with this garbage.

Pea Soup - You can’t just mash up one vegetable and call it soup.

Potato Soup - see Pea Soup.

Any Chilled Soup - These are often fruit-based, and therefore just runny smoothies. Just drink a smoothie.

Tomato Soup - See Pea Soup, but also, tomato is meant to enhance other flavors, not be the star.

6. Chicken Noodle Soup

We start with a staple. There’s a reason chicken noodle soup is THE soup around the country. It’s delicious, healthy, and literally cures sickness. What more could you want? My only complaint about chicken noodle soup is that it’s just a little bland sometimes.

5. Clam Chowdah

*Must be said in Boston accent*

I live in Boston, there is amazing clam chowder here. I really don’t think I need to justify this one more. Is it unhealthy? Yeah probably, but who cares? If you find a good clam chowder it will knock your socks off. The only reason I’m not putting it higher on this list is because there is a lot of bad clam chowder out there muddying the waters.

4. Classic Chili

If you’re looking for the classic “football fall” meal, look no further than chili. Perfect for tailgates, chili hits home in a way few other foods can. I feel very confident that everyone has memories growing up of eating chili on a football Saturday. Wanna kick it up a notch? Make homemade cornbread to go with it. Want that cornbread to be the best you’ve ever eaten? Use Sean Brock’s recipe *chef’s-kiss*.

3. Black Bean Chicken Tortilla Soup

This one has been a new favorite of mine recently. It’s extremely flavorful and has enough different veggies that it’s pretty healthy. It’s wonderful with a few slices of fresh avocado on top.

Chicken, cubed in small pieces

1 onion, chopped

1 can refried beans

1 can black beans

1 can corn

1 can chicken broth (14.5 oz)

1 package taco seasoning

1 cup picante salsa

Dump all of that into a slow cooker for ~4.5 hours and you are good to go. You can also shred the chicken after it cooks up if you prefer that texture.

2. Beef Stew

Beef stew is just absurdly good. Living in Boston can be quite cold sometimes and there is nothing like a hearty bowl of beef stew to warm up your very soul. It’s also super simple to make:

1 ½ lbs cubed beef

2 russet potatoes, cubed (or equivalent quantity of your favorite potato variety)

1 onion, sliced

½ package of baby carrots

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 package (or desired amount) of frozen peas

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 packet McCormick Hearty Beef Stew Seasoning

1 ⅓ cup water

(Don’t try to tell me I’m “cheating” with the seasoning packet, I’m a busy man.)

(shoutout to mama Paschal for the peas and Worcestershire additions)

Basically you just cut up all your veggies, dump them in the cooker with your meat, and pour a mix of water and seasoning in over it all. I usually opt to cook on High for about 5 hours, but you can play around with what works for you. Add the peas in with about 30 minutes left, just enough time to cook them through). You can add the Worcestershire in at the end too if you want the flavor to be more forward. Hot tip: sear the cubed beef in a cast iron skillet before putting into the slow cooker if you have the time - the crust will add a ton of flavor and texture.

This is easily one of my favorite meals and I hope y’all get as much joy out of it as I do. It’s dead simple, but you can add your own little tweaks and flavor where you want to.

1. Brunswick Stew

I probably could eat Brunswick Stew every day. For those that don’t know, Brunswick Stew is a tomato-based stew with corn, lima beans, potato, onion, pulled pork and/or chicken, hot sauce, and a whole bunch of spices and such. I have my Dad’s family recipe and I swear it has like 40 ingredients. Spending a cool fall day out on the porch with a massive pot and meticulously crafting the flavor layers of this stew is such a pleasant experience; I would highly recommend doing it.

My adjacent-hometown (i.e. where I went to high school and stuff) has a “Brunswick Rockin’ Stewbilee” every year devoted to the wonders of this stew because being Brunswick, GA we obviously (correctly) claim to be the originators of this glorious creation. Every local restaurant claims to have the best and every family has their own unique spin and traditions as well; it’s just a super fun local thing. If you’re ever in south Georgia I would highly highly recommend trying a bowl somewhere. My personal favorites are both on St. Simons (my actual hometown): Southern Soul BBQ (literally everything they do is magic) and Blackwater Grill.