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Meg is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. After going through high school thinking she “didn’t like to write,” she found her love for it her freshman year at college and it’s only deepened since then. Upon graduating from Rutgers University with a BA in Communication in 2013, she began working in online marketing for the hospitality industry. She currently splits her time between NYC, where she works, and NJ, where she lives—but hopes that one day she’ll be able to live & work in the same state (that’s the dream).

7 Essential Stew Recipes You Need to Try This Fall

It’s soup, stew, and chili season! Craving heartier, warmer foods and spices is such a natural instinct as the colder months approach that I wonder if there is a genetic or biological component to it. Or maybe it happens because our brains are taught to associate cooler months with such foods. Is it the chicken or the egg? And does it even matter when we are talking about delicious foods?

Ignored for most of the year — now it is soup, stew, and chili’s big time to shine. These three terms tend to be pretty interchangeable, so you might see some recipes here that don’t scream “stew” to you but do to someone else, but I have to repeat — does it matter when we are talking about delicious food?

Mediterranean Kale & White Bean Stew {via fine cooking}
This is a very hearty soup — also known as — it fits in my definition of a stew. And despite it being really hearty, it’s not unhealthy for you, making it very ideal for a weeknight meal. Mediterranean recipes are often full of flavor and tend to have less unhealthy fats, carbs, and sugars and this stew is no exception. It hits multiple major nutrition categories: you are getting greens from kale, a healthy and fibrous protein source from the white beans, and more flavorful protein from sweet sausage. Many times this soup is made with a tomato broth but this recipe uses chicken and I find it perfectly different.

Image Credit: yvonne lee harijanto

Chile Verde {via saveur}
If you find yourself feeling extra frigid or in the middle of a snowstorm, the spice in this chile verde will certainly warm you right up. Per the standard in homemade spicy recipes, feel free to reduce or even drop some of the peppers in this stew if you are sensitive to heat. But do keep in mind that the entire point of this particular dish is spice and you will never be able to completely get rid of it. Spice is what makes chile verde! So if you are extra sensitive, consider something else here if that doesn’t suit you. But if you are in the mood for strong flavors, this is it. It’s incredibly delicious and complex from all the different seasonings and yet it’s still easy to make.

Classic Gumbo {via emeril lagasse}
A standard in Creole cooking, gumbo is made all year round in Louisiana but up here in New Jersey I find it works best in the winter months. It also works best as a weekend dish because this is definitely a labor intensive-bit-time-consuming stew. But per usual when recipes take longer than normal: it is completely worth it. I love this specific gumbo recipe from Emeril because it has easy to find ingredients and the instructions won’t leave you lost if it’s your first attempt. The most important point to remember is to be sure that you keep on stirring the roux in the beginning because that is the base of flavor for the entire pot & most important part of the gumbo.

Chicken Taco Chili {via skinnytaste}
Truthfully, this is a staple in my house year round. It hits everything to look for in a recipe: it’s flavorful but doesn’t have crazy ingredients, it’s quick to put together, it makes a big portion, and it’s absolutely delicious. The reason this chili is special is because the slow cooker does everything for you! You just have to pour a bunch of ingredients in the bowl, turn it on, and 6-8 hours later you have a yummy and healthy chili. That is the other great thing about this one — chili tends to be heavy on the fat, but this one is significantly leaner while not sacrificing any of the flavor.

Crock Pot Beef Stew {via family fresh meals}
Another slow cooker recipe but this time it’s a classic beef stew. Beef stew is fantastic to make on the stove top but this method has just as much flavor, minus all of the active prep time that you would spend standing at the stove. With the slow cooker you really are not doing much at all, it’s a total “set it and forget” recipe. It has everything that a standard beef stew asks for (carrots, potatoes, celery, onion, peas, corn) and a very delicious broth that is all thanks to that long cooking time. The hardest part of making the dish is at the very beginning: remember to put it in early because this stew takes 10 hours to cook.

Image Credit: dara michalski

Pork & Tomatillo Stew {via food and wine}
This is a very fantastic stew that is perfect if you are looking for something a little more on the unique side. It’s not often that you see tomatillos cooked into stews, instead they are usually saved for something else. But here they go nicely with slow cooked pork and tomatoes, the latter of which really helps to balance out their spice. I also enjoy that this stew has potatoes in it to up the hearty vibe, and to provide you with something to shove in your mouth if you hit a really spicy spoonful. This can also be served with tortilla chips and you can even let some of them sit in the stew to soften up a bit. Yummy.

Chicken Barley Stew {via dara michalski for the pioneer woman}
Closing out with a classic — well, moreso a classic with a twist. Chicken noodle is a very classic soup, and here we’re going to take it and turn it not only into a stew but into something a little more healthy. Barley, while certainly gaining a lot more attention in recent years, really remains an underrated grain. It has many different nutrients your body needs (including manganese and selenium) and is full of fiber, which helps keep you fuller for longer. This is a great chicken stew that is perfect for those days when you really need something comforting but don’t want to eat completely unhealthily.

Do you have a favorite stew recipe you like for Fall & Winter?

Featured image is from ironypoisoning on flickr.

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