National Soup Month is observed in January, and what better time to cuddle up with a hot bowl of soup or stew than on a cold winter day. Soup or stew can be a “cure,” a comfort or a one-pot meal. Nothing says welcome home better than the aroma of a pot of soup or stew, ready-to-eat in the slow cooker.

Soup is among the most popular comfort foods. In fact, according to a national survey, the top comfort foods include soup, ice cream, pasta, mashed potatoes, cookies and hot chocolate. The survey also found that soup is the comfort food that people feel the least guilty about eating. Many soups and stews can actually be healthy and full of nutrient-rich vegetables and grains. Soups and stews are a versatile food and relatively easy to prepare.

Stews are a heartier version of soups and typically include meat, vegetables and sometimes a grain or starch with a thickened broth. Beef stew is a favorite, but many people think the preparation is too complicated or time-consuming. But there are basic steps one can take to ensure a beef stew that even a novice cook can master.

Below are cooking tips from the Iowa Beef Industry Council to make a perfect pot of beef stew.

• Browning beef cubes before adding stew ingredients will give a rich beef flavor and color to stew.

• Smaller beef cubes will cook quicker.

• Cuts of beef to use for beef stew are beef for stew, or you can make your own by cutting cubes of beef from a chuck or round roast or steak.

• Beef from the round is leaner, but still provides a rich beef flavor.

• Simmer gently. Low heat will keep beef moist and tender. Boiling beef will make beef tough.

• Cover with lid to retain steam to help tenderize beef. Don’t lift to stir.

• Stews may be simmered in a preheated 325-degree oven for the suggested cook time.

• Do not overcook. Beef will become dry and stringy.

• Add vegetables near end of cook time to prevent them from overcooking and getting mushy.


Beef Stew with Paprika Potatoes

• 2 pounds beef round roast, cut into 2-inch cubes

• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or 5 tablespoons flour for thicker gravy)

• 1 teaspoon paprika, divided

• 1/2 teaspoon pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

• 1 (10.5-ounce) can French onion soup

• 7 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

• 2 medium onions, sliced


Place meat in a 4-quart slow cooker. In a small bowl combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon of the paprika, pepper and thyme. Sprinkle on meat; toss to coat.

Add onion soup, potatoes and onions; stir. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH 4 to 5 hours, or until beef is tender.

Sprinkle with remaining paprika and parsley and serve.

Nutrition facts: 500 Calories per serving, Total Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 115mg, Sodium: 260mg, Total Carbohydrates: 50g, Dietary Fiber: 5g, Protein: 53g

-- Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at