To me, stews are soups which have been thickened with a roux or cornstarch mixture, or starch from potatoes, vegetables, or beans. They are full of big chunks of meats and vegetables, and can almost be eaten with a fork (to parody a famous commercial from a few years ago). Chowders are thick stews which contain chunks of meat, usually seafood. They are richer than stews and usually include some kind of dairy product, like cream or cheese. And chilis are thick stews that are spicy, with beans or legumes. You can transform almost any soup recipe into a stew by adding less liquid in proportion with meats and vegetables, and by thickening the soup with a cornstarch mixture or a roux. If, at the end of the cooking time, the stew isn't as thick as you would like, just combine 2 Tbsp. cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. water and mix until smooth. Turn the slow cooker to high and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Let the soup cook for another 15-20 minutes to thicken. If your stew has potatoes or beans, you can also thicken the mixture by mashing some of the ingredients with a potato masher, then cooking for another 20-30 minutes. This releases the starch inside these ingredients that then thickens the liquid in the recipe.
You don't need to serve much with these hearty recipes. A green salad provides nice contrast in texture and temperature. I feel that some warm, crusty bread or crisp crackers are essential. Try some of these super easy recipes this week to warm up your home and family.
Five Ingredient Crockpot Stews, Chilis, and Chowders
- Crockpot Easy Beef Stew
This simple and hearty stew uses ingredients that are easy to keep on hand.
- Beer and Cheese Chowder
You can use nonalocholic beer in this easy recipe. Be sure to top it with some popcorn!
- Tomato Chicken Stew
Top this rich stew with some purchased pesto or Parmesan cheese to add great flavor at the last minute.
- Crockpot Fish and Corn Chowder
The fish in this stew is cooked frozen, so it will keep its shape during the long cooking time.
- Crockpot Vegetarian Chili
This is one of my favorite chili recipes, because all you have to do is chop an onion and mix some ingredients together.
- Gingered Chicken Stew
Fresh ginger adds a depth of flavor to this thick chicken stew that you will love.
- Turkey and Rice Chili
Use ground turkey, not ground turkey breast, in this recipe. It includes dark meat and has more flavor.
- Crockpot Three Bean Chili
Mix different types of canned beans in this delicious chili to add more interest and flavor to the chili.
- Slow Cooker Pork and Sweet Potato Stew
Sweet potatoes and pork go together like hearts and Valentine's Day. I love this creamy, delicious stew.
- Beef and Mushroom Stew
For mushrooms lovers! Look in your grocer's produce section for more unusual types of fresh mushrooms.
- Crockpot Corn and Sausage Chowder
Try different types of fully cooked sausage in this super-easy chowder. Serve with a crisp green salad and some cheesy french bread slices.
- Tortellini Stew
I love cooking pasta in the crockpot; stews and soups have enough liquid so the tortellini cooks evenly.
- Spicy Pork Chili
If your family likes it hot, use a very spicy salsa in this easy and delicious chili.