Stew's heartiness provides a warming comfort — something we could all use these days. And it's often more filling than soup, which means it makes for a delicious and satisfying lunch or dinner.
That said, there are healthier ways to make stew so that it'll still provide that comforting "hug" you want, while also fueling your body with the nutrition it needs. Here are a four simple tips on how to pick the best stew ingredients:
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- Choose the broth wisely: When it comes to the liquid you're adding to make a broth, aim for low-sodium, reduced-sodium or no-added-salt chicken, beef or vegetable broth. Skip the creamy broths that are typically higher in calories and saturated fat.
- Load up on vegetables: One of the reasons stew can be so good for you is because it often features a variety of vegetables. To add more fiber and nutrients, and to help you meet your daily vegetable quota, incorporate a range of veggies like carrots, parsnips, onions, butternut squash, celery, tomatoes and heartier greens like kale.
- Go with whole grains: If the stew you're making calls for grains like rice or noodles, try options like brown rice and whole-wheat pasta. If you're looking to boost the protein content, look for a legume-based pasta or rice.
- Opt for lean protein. Skip the fattier cuts of beef and dark poultry meat. Instead, choose leaner sources like chicken breast or a leaner cut of beef. Or, go plant-based with options like tofu, seitan, lentils or beans.
Here are 16 delicious stew recipes packed with good-for-you ingredients that'll keep you healthy and warm.
1. Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Calories: 343
- Protein: 34 grams
Beef stew is probably one of the more classic stews and knowing how to make a healthier version that satisfies will come in handy. Huge chunks of carrots, potatoes and lean beef stewed in beef broth will surely be a crowd-pleaser.
The best part is it takes just 15 minutes to make. Seriously. Minimal prep work is required (some dicing and chopping) and then you can set it and forget it, allowing the slow cooker to do the rest.
Get the Slow Cooker Beef Stew recipe and nutrition info.
2. Spanish-Inspired Chicken Stew
- Calories: 479
- Protein: 41 grams
This smoky and savory stew is packed with peppers, sweet potato and crushed tomatoes, making this a nutrient-rich dish. The Spanish influence comes by way of olives and raisins. This may seem like an unexpected pairing to some but they cook into the stew, adding sweetness and a saltiness to each bite. Brown rice would make for a wonderful (and healthy) base to help soak up the broth.
Get the Spanish-Inspired Chicken Stew recipe and nutrition info from Well Plated.
3. Chicken, Chickpeas and Chorizo Stew
- Calories: 375
- Protein: 28 grams
This dish is lighter and brighter compared to typical heartier stews. The base is chicken broth and canned tomato, while the vegetables include kale, onions and tomatoes. The chickpeas and chorizo give the stew some heft along with a healthy dose of protein — almost 30 grams per serving.
Get the Chicken, Chickpeas and Chorizo Stew recipe and nutrition info.
4. Vegetarian Bean Stew With Beans and Rice
- Calories: 342
- Protein: 17 grams
This stew is completely vegan. An assortment of beans and rice provide the 17 grams of plant protein in this dish. These ingredients, combined with spinach, corn, tomatoes, onion and pepper, are full of fiber. Each serving has 18 grams of fiber. It's also loaded with vitamin A, lycopene, vitamin K and potassium.
Get the Vegetarian Bean Stew With Beans and Rice recipe and nutrition info from Picky Eater.
5. Vegan Guinness Stew
- Calories: 395
- Protein: 15 grams
Traditional stew is made with chunks of beef but here, seitan is used instead. The Guinness beer broth and mashed potato topping keep it authentic. Despite these heavier ingredients, each serving is still under 400 calories, provides 15 grams of protein and is completely plant-based.
Get the Vegan Guinness Stew recipe and nutrition info from The Plant-Powered Dietitian.
6. Slow-Cooker Chicken Chile Verde Stew
- Calories: 250
- Protein: 26 grams
Another slow-cooker favorite that requires just 15 minutes of prep work, this is a stew you'll want to cook all winter. The chile verde adds a nice twist to typical chili, bringing freshness with the green broth and the avocado and cilantro toppings. It's still cozy — perfect for any cold day — and it'll keep you feeling satisfied with the whopping 26 grams of protein.
Get the Slow-Cooker Chicken Chile Verde Stew recipe and nutrition info from Real Food Dietitians.
7. Tuscan Bean Stew With Whole-Wheat Pasta
- Calories: 288
- Protein: 15 grams
Think of this as minestrone's thicker, heartier cousin. It has the pasta (but whole-wheat instead of white), beans and cups of vegetables, but in a thicker sauce than a typical bowl of minestrone soup. All 15 grams of protein per serving are plant-powered, too. Pair this with a chunky of crusty bread and top with parmesan for a complete meal.
Get the Tuscan Bean Stew With Whole-Wheat Pasta recipe and nutrition info from Picky Eater.
8. Chipotle Black Bean and Quinoa Stew
- Calories: 312
- Protein: 17 grams
Here's another vegan stew option that brings the protein. The 17 grams of protein per serving are primarily from the black beans and quinoa. The chipotle gives this savory dish a smoky flavor, which is tempered by the sweet potato. The stew is also loaded with fiber, providing 26 grams per serving.
Get the Chipotle Black Bean and Quinoa Stew recipe and nutrition info.
9. Lentil Stew with Kale
- Calories: 422
- Protein: 27 grams
The secret ingredient to this lentil stew is salsa, which adds flavor, spices and vegetables — without requiring any chopping. This is an easy, speedy recipe thanks to the salsa shortcut and because the lentils don't have to be precooked. You can just toss them into the pot as is.
Get the Lentil Stew with Kale recipe and nutrition info from Eating Bird Food.
10. Pörkölt (Hungarian Stew)
- Calories: 439
- Protein: 37 grams
Pörkölt is similar to goulash with the meat and veggies, but it's much thicker and less soupy. The star of this dish is the sweet paprika, which is a Hungarian spice that can be found in the grocery store or at online retailers. If you don't have it on hand, you can substitute hot paprika, but the taste will be a little different.
11. Sweet Potato and Chickpea Peanut Stew
- Calories: 490
- Protein: 17 grams
This plant-based dish combines peanuts and chickpeas for a punch of protein. The sweet and savory flavor profile is inspired by Maafe, a West African stew that typically includes meat, and by Nkate nkwan, a Ghanaian stew. You can serve this stew as-is, or if you want something heartier, accompany it with a starch like rice or fufu, which is a West African recipe for dough.
Get the Sweet Potato and Chickpea Peanut Stew recipe and nutrition info from Dishing Out Health.
12. Creamy Chicken Stew With Dumplings
- Calories: 332
- Protein: 22 grams
This thick stew provides vegetables with carrots, celery and onions and is filled with protein from the chicken. The creamy goodness comes from the cream cheese in the recipe. The attention-getting dumplings only have five ingredients, and most of them are probably in your pantry already.
Get the Creamy Chicken Stew With Dumplings recipe and nutrition info from The Endless Meal.
13. Hamburger Stew
- Calories: 281
- Protein: 23 grams
The recipe calls for fewer than 10 ingredients, most of which you should already have, especially if you keep frozen veggies in your freezer. Stew is a warming, cozy dish, but the beef along with the Worcestershire sauce is reminiscent of summer barbecues.
Get the Hamburger Stew recipe and nutrition info from Salt and Lavender.
14. Crock-Pot Asian-Style Mongolian Beef Stew
- Calories: 260
- Protein: 29 grams
Take advantage of this time-saving slow cooker recipe. It takes only 10 minutes of prep time, so you can get this cooking before your workday. Once the prep is completed, this stew will need to spend eight hours in the slow cooker.
15. Crock-Pot Turkey Mushroom Stew
- Calories: 201
- Protein: 19 grams
Try this recipe if you have leftover turkey or chicken in the fridge. This is another stew with minimal ingredients. Plus, it has a speedy hands-on time, taking just 15 minutes to prep. An additional four hours of sitting time is needed to let the turkey cook.
16. Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken Stew
- Calories: 420
- Protein: 27 grams
This stew is on the creamier side, yet is still under 500 calories. This will be a family favorite thanks to the warm filling flavor profile from the heavy cream and the parmesan. If you don't want the parmesan to overpower the stew, you leave it out or put it individually in the servings.
Get the Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken Stew recipe and nutrition info from The Recipe Rebel.