There are plenty of ways to differentiate a soup from a stew—the ratio of liquid to ingredients, for example, or the size to which said ingredients are cut. But let’s put technical factors aside for a moment, and take a slightly less tangible approach: For starters, soup invites you to slide into a light cardigan and find comfort at the dining room table, while stew prefers you slip into your most obnoxiously thick knitwear—a turtleneck so chunky you can barely see over the top, for example—and settle in next to a roaring fire. If soup suggests you get on with your day, stew wants you to lick your bowl clean of its long-simmered sauce, then (please) take that nap you’ve been dreaming about for weeks.
That is to say: Whether meaty or vegan, complex or as humble as can be, stews offer a kind of extreme comfort that few other dishes can. Here are 15 of our favorites, each worth digging out your beefiest turtleneck for.
This article’s introduction was written by Lindsay Anderson, while the descriptions of each recipe were written by staff members and contributors for Serious Eats.