Stew is a type of cuisine, a main food course. There is no ethnic group that does not make use of some form of this “one pot” staple. Indeed, in many cultures, stews are a main part of the cuisine.
Stew is made by placing all the ingredients (sometimes raw, sometimes partially cooked) into a pot with an amount of liquid, and cooking over a low fire. Cooks often advise that a stew should not be boiled, but instead simmered slowly. The same technique is used to make soup; stews are considered thick, chunky soups, although there is overlap in the categories with items such as boulliabaisse and pasta fagioli.
Meat or legumes generally form the base for stew.
Vegetarian stews can be made from vegetables simmered in vegetable broth, often an onion-based stock. Persons who practice vegetarianism are usually concerned with maintaining the integrity of vegetables both for aesthetic, taste and nutritional reasons, all of which are affected by lengthy cooking, so vegetarian stews often have a much sorter cooking time.