CHICKEN STEW IS A COMFORTING MEAL-IN-ONE PACKED WITH JUICY CHICKEN AND VEGGIES SWIMMING IN THE MOST AMAZINGLY FLAVORFUL GRAVY BROTH!
This Chicken Stew recipe is easy, hearty, warm, nourishing comfort in a bowl and SO good you’ll want to make it again and again! The Chicken Stew is loaded with juicy chicken, buttery potatoes, hearty carrots and celery, fresh green beans and aromatic onions, garlic and herbs swaddled in a rich, cozy gravy-broth. It’s a hypnotic tapestry of flavor and texture in every spoonful. This easy Chicken Stew recipe is also extremely versatile and pantry friendly – swap the chicken for ground beef or sausage, swap veggies or add more favorites, make it creamy, brothy or stew-like (all variations included). It also make ahead friendly (tips and tricks included) and stores and reheats beautifully!
CHICKEN STEW RECIPE
This Chicken Stew recipe is an old comforting classic waiting to become a new family favorite! There simply isn’t anything more comforting than a big bowl of hearty stew. It’s like curling up with your favorite cozy blanket that warms you from the inside out with every heaping slurpful. Even your pickiest eater will fall in love with this stew and be clamoring for more!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS CHICKEN STEW RECIPE:
- DELICIOUS! This Chicken Stew recipe is a warm, savory symphony of juicy chicken, tender veggies and layers of complex aromatic flavor swaddled in rich, herb infused broth. The stew is seasoned to perfection with hand-picked seasonings of oregano, parsley, basil, thyme, paprika and cumin that will fill your home with the savory aroma of anticipation.
- THICK AND CREAMY. This Chicken Stew is lusciously thick from the combination of both a roux and cannellini beans. The beans become one with the broth as they simmer, breaking down and creamifying the soup. You can also customize the consistency of the stew by making it less thick or more creamy.
- NO CREAM SOUP. To that end, this Chicken Stew recipe doesn’t use any mystery “cream of” canned soups but still emerges rich, creamy and flavorful.
- PANTRY FRIENDLY INGREDIENTS. The ingredients for this Chicken Stew recipe are simple, inexpensive and you probably have almost all of them on hand. This recipe can also be made with any chicken you have on hand from chicken thighs to chicken breasts to rotisserie chicken.
- EASY & EFFECTIVE SHORTCUTS. This homemade Chicken Stew recipe utilizes a few easy shortcuts to make it easy enough to make on a weeknight, without skimping on flavor. Chicken Stew from scratch starts by simmering a whole chicken. To minimize prep and cook time, this recipe utilizes quick-cooking, flavorful chicken thighs. It also uses store-bough chicken broth in place of homemade chicken broth spiked with chicken bouillon and seasonings to create complex layers of flavor.
- PREP AHEAD. The most time-consuming part of this stew is trimming the chicken and chopping your carrots, celery, potatoes, onions and garlic. Fortunately, all this prep can be done ahead of time and it’s a great way to get your kids involved.
- MAKE AHEAD. This Chicken Stew can be made in the morning or days in advance because it tastes even better the next day!
- MEAL-IN-ONE. This easy Chicken Stew recipe is loaded with protein, veggies and potatoes for a complete meal-in-one all made in one pot! Serve alone or with no-fuss sides like a simple green salad and fruit.
- Less Expensive. A pot of Chicken Stew feeds the whole family with some tantalizing leftovers to spare at the fraction of the price of dining out.
LOOKING FOR MORE CHICKEN SOUP RECIPES?
- Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- Chicken and Dumplings
- Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Crock Pot Creamy White Chicken Chili
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
- Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder
CHICKEN STEW INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
This Chicken Stew recipe is made with simple, pantry friendly ingredients. The key to the complex flavor comes from building the layers of flavor by first browning the chicken, then sautéing the veggies and aromatic onions and garlic before adding the broth. You will need:
- Chicken. You can use chicken thighs, chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken – whatever you have on hand!
- Olive oil and Butter. I like using a combination of extra-virgin olive oil and butter for both complex flavor and a higher smoking point (the oil helps the butter no burn). You may use all oil, but I don’t suggest all butter.
- Chicken Broth. Take care your chicken broth is low sodium otherwise your soup will be too salty. Using low sodium broth also allows us to use chicken bouillon which amps up the flavor.
- Chicken bouillon. You can use bouillon powder, bouillon cubes or better than bouillon – all in the same measurements. Add bouillon to the soup without dissolving in liquid first. If using cubes, you will need 2 cubes which you crush up and then add directly to the broth.
- Carrots. Chop the carrots on the thicker side because they are going to cook for over 30 minutes. Please don’t use baby carrots as they aren’t nearly as flavorful.
- Celery. Also needs to be chopped on the thicker side, about ½-inch.
- Potatoes. Any waxy potatoes will work chopped into 1-2” pieces.
- Green Beans. I like fresh green beans but they are not my favorite vegetable – but guess what?! I LOVE them in this Chicken Stew! They add a fresh pop of flavor and texture – I highly recommend them! Also, fresh green beans taste far superior than canned in this application.
- Flour. Helps thicken the stew by creating a roux. You may substitute with gluten free all-purpose flour.
- Cannellini beans. Are added at the beginning of the soup so they break down and become one with the broth. This not only adds creamy body to the broth but also a hint of irresistible nutty flavor. If want the texture of actual beans in your soup, add them with the green beans towards the end of cooking.
- Fire roasted tomatoes. Boast a wonderful smoky flavor and are sweeter with less acidity than regular diced tomatoes. They add a depth of flavor without making the Chicken Stew taste like tomatoes. Most grocery stores carry fire roasted diced tomatoes but if you can’t find them, then substitute regular diced tomatoes or you can roast your own.
CAN I USE VEGETABLE BROTH INSTEAD?
I do not recommend vegetable broth because it does not have the chicken flavor which is crucial in this Chicken Stew recipe. That doesn’t mean you can’t use vegetable broth, but it does mean the soup will not taste rich and flavorful.
CAN I USE FROZEN VEGETABLES?
Absolutely! Frozen vegetables are a great shortcut. Add the vegetables to the soup the same time you add the shredded chicken – no need to thaw.
CAN I MAKE THE SOUP GLUTEN FREE?
Yes! If you want to make gluten free Chicken Stew, then use gluten-free baking flour such as Bob Red Mills 1 to 1 baking flour – the rest of the ingredients are gluten free.
WHAT POTATOES ARE BEST FOR STEW?
Not all potatoes are created equal! For soups and stews, you want low starch, waxy potatoes such as Dutch baby potatoes, red potatoes, Yukon, new potatoes or fingerling potatoes. Waxy potatoes do not absorb moisture while they cook so they retain their shape despite extended high heat.
Starchy potatoes, such as russet potatoes, should be avoided because they develop a mealy texture and are likely to fall apart.
For this Chicken Stew recipe, I like baby Dutch potatoes because they emerge buttery tender and you only have to quarter them instead chopping whole potatoes. If your baby potatoes are larger, then cut them into six pieces per potato instead.
WHAT CHICKEN IS BEST?
I highly recommend chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in) for the best Chicken Stew recipe. I didn’t always use chicken thighs for my soup recipes, but once I started, there was NO going back. Chicken thighs are dark meat which means they are inherently juicier, richer tasting and produce far more tender chicken than chicken breasts. They are also harder to overcook and stay tender for days with a more palate pleasing texture, even when reheated for leftovers.
In addition, chicken thighs are browned first which adds an important depth of flavor to the overall stew as all those golden, flavorful bits become part of the broth.
CAN I USE CHICKEN BREASTS?
Absolutely! You can still use chicken breasts but because they are leaner than chicken thighs, they will not be as juicy or as flavorful. If using chicken breasts, I suggest bone-in chicken breasts but boneless will also work. They will also need to be simmered longer than the thighs, closer to 20-25 minutes depending on their size.
CAN I USE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN?
Yes! Rotisserie chicken is my second choice to use in this Chicken Stew recipe after thighs. Rotisserie chicken comes lightly seasoned for an added depth of flavor and is a mix of both light and dark meat. It also comes perfectly tender and ready to slurp up.
To use rotisserie chicken, shred the chicken, discarding the bones and add about 3 cups shredded chicken to the soup when you would add the shredded chicken thighs back to the stew.
CAN I USE LEFTOVER CHICKEN?
Absolutely! Add about 3 cups shredded or chopped leftover chicken to the soup along with the cauliflower.
WHAT SPICES DO YOU ADD TO CHICKEN STEW?
- Salt pepper. The Chicken Stew begins by seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper. Additional pepper is called for in the recipe to be added to the stew but it is up to you to salt to taste because you can add salt but you can’t take it away! If you feel like the stew is missing something at the end of cooking, it is probably salt because it awakens all of the flavors. This can easily be remedied with a few shakes.
- Herbs. Dried Italian seasonings of oregano, parsley, thyme and basil enhance the earthy, savory flavor. Hints of paprika and cumin are also added for a depth of flavor.
- Aromatics: onions and garlic are flavor powerhouses and absolutely essential.
CAN I USE FRESH HERBS?
I prefer dried herbs in this Chicken Stew recipe because they get added to the soup at the beginning which infuses the broth with flavor. You are welcome to use fresh herbs but you will need three times the amount of dried. Take care to add them towards the end of cooking for maximum flavor.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN STEW
STEP 1: SEAR CHICKEN:
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drying the chicken allows the seasonings to stick. Allowing the chicken time to rest while you prep the veggies helps the seasonings penetrate the chicken.
- Sear chicken in a large Dutch oven/ soup pot until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate but leave drippings.
STEP 2: SAUTÉ VEGETABLES:
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoon olive oil over medium low heat in now empty pot with the drippings. Once melted, increase to medium-high heat and add onions, carrots and celery; sauté for 4 minutes scaping up the golden bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds; sprinkle in flour then cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes (it will be thick). Don’t let flour stick to the bottom of the pot or it will burn later.
- Cooking the flour gets rid of the raw flour smell and taste.
- The vegetables will not be completely tender at this point but will soften as they simmer with the stew.
STEP 3: ADD REMAINING INGREDINENTS:
Add seared chicken back to the pot along with fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices, cannellini beans, chicken broth, chicken bouillon, dried parsley, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil, ground cumin, paprika, and one bay leaf.
STEP 4: SIMMER SOUP:
- Cover the soup to bring to a simmer, then displace the lid so it’s partially covering the pot, with about a one-inch opening.
- Simmer the soup for 12-15 minutes or until chicken is tender enough to shred.
- The amount of time it takes for the chicken to become tender will depend on the thickness of the chicken. Chicken thighs will take less than 15 minutes, while chicken breasts can take up to 25.
STEP 5: SHRED CHICKEN & ADD GREEN BEANS
- Remove chicken to a cutting board and shred into bite-size pieces once cool enough to handle (don’t add back to soup yet).
- Meanwhile, add green beans to soup and continue to simmer the soup for an additional 10 minutes, partially covered or until potatoes are tender.
STEP 6: ADD CHICKEN
- Stir in shredded chicken (or rotisserie chicken if using).
- Stir in additional broth for a less “chunky” stew.
- Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired (I like more salt).
TIPS FOR BEST CHICKEN STEW RECIPE
- Use chicken thighs. This Chicken Stew recipe will work with chicken breasts or chicken thighs, but for the best flavor and most juicy chicken, use chicken thighs or shredded rotisserie chicken.
- Rotisserie chicken. Stock shredded chicken or rotisserie chicken portioned into 3 cup freezer bags so you always have chicken ready to add to any soup.
- Customize vegetables. In addition to the mirepoix, you can add whatever veggies you have on hand or mix it up just for fun! Corn, broccoli, zucchini, etc. would all be delicious. Just be aware most vegetables will not need the full cook time – see my detailed instructions in the Variations section.
- Vegetable size. Chop carrots and celery at least ½-inch thick because they are going to simmer for longer than many soups. Avoid chopping your vegetables too thin or they can become mushy.
- Sear chicken for maximum flavor. While you don’t have to sear the chicken, searing the chicken results in the Maillard reaction, in which amino acids and reducing sugars produce browning, and as we know, color= flavor! The delicious brown bits left in the bottom of the pan will be season the entire stew as they permeate the broth.
- Don’t burn drippings. When you’re searing the chicken, don’t let the drippings turn dark/black because these means you are burning the drippings which will make the entire soup taste burnt. If the drippings are darkening too quickly, reduce the heat.
- Don’t burn flour/stew. Don’t let flour stick to the bottom of the pot when cooking or it will burn later. You can add additional oil if needed if the flour is sticking. To that end, stir the soup occasionally while simmering so the soup doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.
- Consistency. You can make this Chicken Stew recipe creamier, more gravy-like or thin and brothy. See my section on how to adjust consistency.
HOW TO THICKEN CHICKEN STEW
This Chicken Stew achieves its rich, stew-like consistency by first sautéing the vegetables in butter and olive oil so they soften and drink up flavor. Next, we create a roux by stirring in all-purpose flour and cooking for a couple of minutes then stirring in chicken broth and cannellini beans. The broth thickens as it simmers and the beans break down adding body and nutty creaminess. If you would still like a thicker Chicken Stew, you can use any of these methods:
- Cornstarch: this is my preferred method for thickening soups and stews and super easy. Whisk ¼ cup water with 2 tablespoon cornstarch with a fork until smooth. Whisk the slurry back into the stew and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Flour and butter: mix equal parts flour and softened butter together with a fork so it becomes a thick paste and almost forms a ball. You will want 2-3 tablespoons each, depending on how thick you want the stew. Add it to the stew, stir, and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Puree soup: Remove 1-2 cups of the stew and puree it in your blender or food processor. It will add body to the soup while preserving the flavor.
- Puree beans: Add additional cannellini beans to a blender along with some of the soup. Puree until smooth to create a paste. Stir back into the soup and warm through.
HOW TO MAKE SOUP CREAMY
If you would like thick and creamy Chicken Stew, replace 1-2 cups of broth with half and half or heavy cream.
HOW TO THIN CHICKEN STEW:
If you prefer your Chicken Stew on the thin, brothy, side, then simply stir in additional chicken broth. If you would like thin and chunky, then reduce the flour to 2 tablespoons.
CHICKEN STEW RECIPE VARIATIONS
This Chicken Stew recipe is easy to customize with all sorts of add ins. Here are a few ideas:
Although this is Chicken Stew, it is a great springboard to make other soups as well using whatever protein you have on hand.
- Ground beef ground turkey or Italian sausage. Brown the beef with the onions, carrots and celery, crumbling as you cook.
- Sausage. Brown kielbasa, Polish sausage or chicken sausage then remove to a plate. Slice or chop into bite size pieces then add back to the soup with the broth to simmer with the vegetables.
- Bacon. Cook the thick-cut bacon until crispy then remove from the pot. Reserve some of the drippings to cook the chicken in. Add the crumbled bacon to the soup at the end of cooking.
- Ham. Add ham with the shredded chicken or instead of the shredded chicken. Ham can be quite salty so reduce the bouillon and salt in the recipe and add salt to taste.
I recommend sticking with the carrots and celery but you can also add any other vegetables such as:
- Corn. You can use canned, drained sweet corn or frozen sweet corn – no need to thaw.
- Mushrooms. Cremini/baby bella mushrooms will have the most flavor.
- Bell peppers. Any color will taste great! Add them with the green beans.
- Sweet potatoes. Swap the potatoes for sweet potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces.
- Butternut squash. Peel, chop into 1-inch pieces and add with the broth.
- Broccoli. Chop into bite size pieces and add with the green beans.
- Cauliflower. Chop into bite size pieces and add with the green beans.
- Zucchini. Slice and quarter zucchini and add with the green beans. Slice zucchini on the thick side, about ¼-inch so it doesn’t get too soft.
WHAT CAN I PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME?
This Chicken Stew recipe is very simple but it does require some prep work as far as trimming the chicken and chopping vegetables. You can save time by:
- Trim chicken. Trim off excess fat from chicken thighs then store chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Chop vegetables. Chop the vegetables and aromatic’s a couple days ahead of time, the night before dinner or just a few hours before cooking then store the veggies and aromatics in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
- Chop potatoes. Once you cut the potatoes, starch is released which will cause them to brown, so make sure you submerge them in water to prevent this discoloration. Simply place the potatoes in a bowl or airtight container, cover with water then cover with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Measure Spices. It doesn’t take long to measure out the spices, but you can certainly do it beforehand and store the mix in an airtight bag or container.
HOW TO STORE & REHEAT
The flavors of this Chicken Stew get even better the next day so you can enjoy leftovers for days!
- Storage: store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Microwave: transfer individual servings to a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 2 minutes; stir then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.
- Stove: heat stew over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.
- Crockpot: transfer stew to your crockpot and heat on low for 1-2 hours.
CAN I FREEZE CHICKEN STEW RECIPE?
I would not advocate freezing your Chicken Stew because potatoes do not freeze-and-reheat well. They turn into a bizarre, mushy texture. If you still want to freeze your stew, I suggest removing the potatoes unless you’re not a texture person.
To freeze Chicken Stew:
- Cool: Allow stew to cool completely before freezing to preserve the integrity of the ingredients.
- Package: Transfer stew to an airtight freezer safe container or freezer bag. You can even use sandwich size plastic bags for individual stew portions. Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn and label
- Freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Defrost/Reheat. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in the microwave, crockpot or stove according to aforementioned instructions.
WHAT CAN I SERVE WITH CHICKEN STEW?
This easy Chicken Stew recipe is practically a meal-in-one complete with protein, veggies and starch. In addition, we like to serve it with a refreshing salad, fruit or bread such as:
- Salad: Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch, Cucumber Tomato Salad, Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Apple Salad, Pear Salad, Roasted Butternut Squash Salad or Green Bean Salad.
- Fruit: Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette, Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Vinaigrette Berry Salad in Honey Mascarpone, Tropical Fruit Salad, or Pina Colada Fruit Salad.
- Bread: mopping up leftover stew is a must! We love Soft and Fluffy Dinner Rolls, Garlic Parmesan Butter Breadsticks, Garlic Bread and Moist Sweet Cornbread.
HELPFUL TOOLS FOR THIS CHICKEN STEW RECIPE:
- Dutch oven: is one of my most used pots! Dutch ovens are ideal for soups with their superior heat distribution and retention for even cooking. I have both a more expensive Le Creuset (keep in mind the price varies by color) and a less expensive Cuisinart (not sold on Amazon) which both work excellent. This less expensive AmazonBasics also has excellent reviews.
- Quality Knives: a chef’s knife will be your most used kitchen tool by far! Quality knives make prep time much quicker and are important for safety as well. If you’re concerned about moola, please remember that your best chef knives, depending on how hard you use them and how well you take care of them, can easily last 25 years or more. I love my Wusthof but there are hundreds of less expensive knives with great reviews such as this one.
- Cutting Board: I use my big solid cutting board daily so it’s worth the investment. This extra-large cutting board allows you to prep all your veggies on one surface and the bamboo is easier on knives than plastic.
- Garlic press: I use this every single day! It is the ultimate garlic press- it is easy-to-use, easy-to-clean and minces garlic with one squeeze. Unlike other presses, this garlic press has beveled holes that finely cut the clove rather than bruising it, bringing out the best flavor.
- Onion chopper: onions make me cry like crazy so I LOVE this onion chopper! It’s made with stainless steel discs for chopping/dicing the hardest vegetables/cheeses with 1 easy motion. It’s also backed by a lifetime warranty- and I can guarantee way less tears!
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