On those blustery days when tomato bisque or chicken noodle just won’t cut it, it’s time to break out our dutch ovens and let meats, seafood, rice, and vegetables simmer down to their most tender states. It’s winter stew season.
Our favorite winter stew recipes combine old school traditions with new school flair from chefs around the South. You’ll find hearty gumbo and rich oyster stew. But we’re also cooking up vegan sweet potato-harissa stew and reaching for chicken and dumplings that we can pull together on a weeknight (can you imagine?). Check out these winter stews, and let your Crock-Pots, slow cookers, Instant Pots, and dutch ovens cook low and slow for the rest of the day.
Winter Stews to Cook Low and Slow
Turn leftover ground meat, grains, and wilting produce into this savory, hearty stew. This recipe offers a loose idea of which vegetables to reach for, between celery and fennel or swiss chard and kale, helping you use up whatever you have on hand instead of shopping for the specific recipe. Throw in any cooked grains you’d like, be it rice, barley, or farro.
This rustic French winter stew traditionally blends beans and bits of slow-cooked ham and sausage in a rich roux. This version from Saint John in New Orleans uses Camellia beans which hold up to soaking and melt into a beautiful, creamy consistency.
Protein-packed and easy to make, this stew fish recipe needs only a few basic ingredients to result in a dramatic presentation. This recipe calls for pan-frying the fish before starting the stew so that the crispy skin holds up to the liquid. Complete the meal by serving the stew with fonio pilaf.
From Adrienne Cheatham‘s Sunday Best cookbook, this recipe pairs comfort with cultural history. Starting in the 1500s, Native Americans formed relationships with the newly displaced Africans in a sort of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” type of alliance, and taught them how to cultivate corn for grits, cornbread, hushpuppies, and even steaming dollops of batter in hot broth to create stew dumplings. Thus, the homey, rustic dish we know as chicken and dumplings was born.
This Latin-inspired braise takes its cue from pozole, a pork stew with hominy and green chili. This version swaps out hominy for skillet cornbread on the side. Enjoy separately or crumble cornbread chunks over the mixture like soft croutons.
Every coastal state needs an oyster stew recipe up its sleeve. Creamy broth and soft oysters are matched by crispy bacon pieces and Yukon Gold potatoes for a bowl of varied textures.
A black iron pot sits atop a stone foundation in Brunswick County, Georgia, with a placard that reads, “In this pot the first brunswick stew was made on St. Simons Isle July 2, 1898.” While not from that historic pot, this brunswick stew recipe does comes from Southern Soul Barbeque on St. Simons Island.
Make store-bought rotisserie chickens your secret weapon for weeknight meal prep. It saves the time of dressing and roasting a chicken and adds additional seasoning to whatever stock you’re using. Add the dumpling batter to the stew in the last 20 minutes, and let them steam into fluffy nuggets.
This stew from Leah & Louise is for the seafood fanatics. Complete with oysters and crabmeat, and topped with crispy catfish filets, the elevated flavor and presentation makes it a compelling option to serve at a winter dinner party. We make it especially Southern by serving it over Carolina Gold Rice.
Don’t throw out those post-holiday turkey scraps. Keep them in the freezer, and use them to add deep flavor and delicious, meaty bits to soups and stews, such as this gumbo. A long simmering time for this winter stew makes it an ideal weekend cooking project. Assemble during the midafternoon and enjoy for dinner with a side of cornbread.
This New Orleans stew contains all the elements of French bouillabaisse—meaty fish pieces, eye-catching shellfish swimming in a brothy sauce—and turns it Southern. Shrimp, littleneck clams, and chorizo get cooked in a tomato-fennel broth, creating an umami-rich, protein-packed stew that will give you a taste of the beach on a winter night. Be sure to serve it with plenty of bread to soak up all the sauce.
This plant-based winter stew is the answer when you need hearty comfort food that’s still somewhat healthy. We love the warm, deep flavor harissa paste adds to humble sweet potatoes and chickpeas.
For a winter stew that actually bursts with fresh (not stewed) vegetables, try this West African-style recipe from Heirloom Café in Athens, Georgia. Loaded with cherry tomatoes, basil, cilantro, and green onions, this dish isn’t just for the winter.
- by Erin Byers Murray