Steve, on “Blue’s Clues,” said it best when they were looking for a clue: What is the difference between soup and stew? Is it the potatoes?
Potatoes are definitely part of it, but it is more specifically the thickness of the dish and the length of time you are cooking that makes the difference. If the ratio of liquid to meat/veg is more on the thin side, you have soup on your hands. And if you are looking for stew as a finish, that also equates to “a problem.”
If you really want to geek out, I found this great chart cataloging everything from stews to bisques, to fumet to vichyssoise. Go Check It Out!
Another geek reference, for those of us who just like to learn about everything: Soup Through the Ages: A Culinary History with Period Recipes/Victora R. Rumble…Amazing book for knowledge nuts and foodies.
With this newfound knowledge, I encourage mankind to really start making good soups this season. Forego the canned soup for convenience and follow the path of our foremothers, and make amazing soup!