I'm trying to make a stew with the least amount of ingredients. If I could just cook the meat itself that would be great but I think that would be frying or grill so not a stew.

What is the least ingredients one needs to make a stew? I take it can be made with onions, potatoes or carrots as one ingredient are there other options?

  • 4
    How do you define "stew"?
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 20:47
  • I'm thinking like a curry. Not liquid like a soup. You can coat other foods e.g. rice with the liquid without it all falling off as water. Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 21:57
  • 5
    That has more to do with making a thick sauce (using a thickener like flour or cornstarch) than anything to do with onions or carrots or potatoes... well, potatoes are also a starch... When you start cutting out ingredients, you inevitably start cutting out flavor. Why are you trying to reduce the ingredients list? Understanding that may help more than telling you whether onions are necessary.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 22:01

2 Answers 2


If you were to cook meat in just water (possibly after browning it) you could call it a braise. In order to be a stew it probably needs some other ingredients. If you don't like or don't have onions, there's no need to use them. Use whatever vegetables you feel like using. They aren't serving a chemical purpose, such as leavening or thickening or browning; they're just for taste and to make a filling meal by adding things that cost less than meat.

You can of course add a variety of spices, which may make your stew qualify as a curry or a chili. And if you intend to serve it over rice or noodles, you may want to thicken the liquid a little. There are many ways to do that, but white flour, predissolved in a little cold water, is a popular one. This is, for some people, a key discriminant between being a soup and being a stew: that stews are thickened with flour and soups are not. But you can find plenty of people to disagree with that.

Why is it important to you that you make something called a stew?


If your objective is really just fewest ingredients--as in some kind of challenge--this one doesn't need onions, per se. The store-bought stock contains onion flavor:

1-2 lbs. beef chuck pieces 2 tablespoons of cooking oil 1-2 cups canned beef stock -- use fairly high sodium content 1-3 tablespoons beurre manie.

Brown the beef chuck pieces until they're crusty. Add the beef stock to the pan and scrape up the bits on the bottom. Lower the heat to simmer the meat for about 2 hours. At that time add the beurre manie and stir to make a gravy. Plate and serve this rather uninteresting dish.

  • If you don't like that recipe, why did you post it as an answer?
    – Sneftel
    Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 23:43

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