Dutch Oven Cooking
7 Soups and Stews You Can Make in Your Dutch Oven Tonight
From a savory French pork stew to a Vietnamese classic, break out the Dutch oven and stay warm with these hearty winter recipes.
01-27-2017
America's Test Kitchen

It’s winter, which means it’s pretty cold in much of America. (Keep laughing, Florida.) There are few better ways to keep warm than by cooking and eating a hearty soup or stew. We’ve compiled a list of seven of our favorite cold weather cures from around the globe, from a simple Tuscan-style beef stew to the Portuguese classic caldo verde. Break out your Dutch ovens, because it’s time for some soups and stews.

French-Style Pork Stew

To produce a rich, savory broth, we use three types of pork: pork butt, kielbasa, and smoked ham shank. Aromatics, herbs, and spices season a mixture of water and chicken broth, and a careful selection of vegetables—savoy cabbage, carrots, and potatoes—complete the meaty yet light dish.

Tuscan-Style Beef Stew

Tuscan beef stew (peposo), a stew made by the tilemakers of Florence's famous Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral Duomo, is a simple stew of beef braised in wine, with loads of peppercorns and a head of garlic cloves. To improve the texture and flavor of ours without veering too far from the original, we added tomato paste and anchovies for meatiness, powdered gelatin for body, and shallots, carrots, and herbs for complexity. To ensure a full-bodied wine flavor, we add some wine at the beginning of the long braise, more before reducing the sauce, and a small amount at the end. And we did the same with the peppercorns: cracked pepper at the start, ground pepper toward the end, and more cracked pepper on serving.

Vietnamese Beef Pho

To produce Vietnamese beef pho broth with the flavor and complexity of the real deal without the fuss, we blanch ground beef in water to make the base for our broth. To the broth, we add fish sauce, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, star anise, cloves, salt, and peppercorns to bring complex spice notes. To serve, we add cooked rice noodles plus wafer-thin slices of easy-to-find strip steak, which cook in the hot broth. We also served the traditional garnishes: bean sprouts, basil sprigs, lime wedges, hoisin, Sriracha, and extra fish sauce.

Best Chicken Stew

In working to make a chicken stew that could satisfy like its beef brethren, we looked to two different chicken parts: We seared well-exercised wings to provide rich chicken flavor and plenty of thickening gelatin, and then we gently simmered bite-size pieces of boneless chicken thighs for tender bites throughout the stew. To boost meatiness, we used a combination of bacon, soy sauce, and anchovy paste. Finally we took full advantage of the concentrating effect of reduction by cooking down wine, broth, and aromatics at the start and simmering the stew uncovered during its stay in the oven.

Caldo Verde

Caldo verde, a traditional Portuguese soup of shredded greens, potatoes, and sausage, is slightly thickened by partially mashing some of the potatoes. Our soup, thickened with pureed potatoes and olive oil, is silky smooth, and by increasing the amount of potato and sausage, we’ve turned this simple first course into a hearty and filling meal.

Hearty Spanish-Style Lentil and Chorizo Soup

To ensure creamy, well-seasoned lentils with intact skins, we soak them in a warm brine for 30 minutes before cooking. For a rich, vegetal flavor, we sweat onion, carrot, and parsley in a covered pot to provide a background taste to the main ingredients: heady smoked paprika, meaty chorizo, earthy lentils, and tart sherry vinegar. To finish the soup, we garnish it with an Indian preparation called a tarka, a mixture of spices and aromatics bloomed in oil.

Italian Vegetable Stew (Ciambotta)

Italy’s ciambotta is a ratatouille-like stew chock-full of veggies that makes for a hearty one-bowl meal with nary a trace of meat. We wanted to avoid the ill fate of most recipes, which end in mushy vegetables drowning in a weak broth. In order to optimize the texture of the zucchini and peppers, we employed the dry heat of a skillet before adding them to the Dutch oven. To address the broth, we embraced eggplant’s natural tendency to fall apart and cooked it until it completely assimilated into a thickened tomato-enriched sauce. Finally, we found that a traditional pestata of garlic and herbs provided the biggest flavor punch when added near the end of cooking.

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Cooking on busy weeknights is a heavy lift—it’s easy to be deterred by time-consuming prep before and a sink full of dirty dishes after. One-pan meals would be a great solution, if they didn’t result in bland, mushy food. The test kitchen solved these challenges to create One-Pan Wonders, a collection of inspired, family-friendly recipes for even the busiest home cooks.

 

What's your favorite soup or stew to cook in a Dutch oven? Let us know in the comments! And for more information on Dutch oven cooking, read the following posts: 

 

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