Spices and Stews

If you love soups and stews as much as we do, there are several spices and add-ins you should always have on hand. Not only do spices each have their own flavor profiles, but they also come with some noteworthy health benefits. In addition to spices and herbs, there are several liquid-based ingredients that can take your next soup or stew up a notch. Be sure to try some of our chef-created recipes to put them all to the test.


You’ll find a wide variety of dried herbs in spices that are perfect for soups and stews in both our grocery aisles and the bulk areas at your Market. Ground spices can lose their freshness quickly and typically don’t last more than six months. The best way to tell if you should pitch and replace is to smell test them – if you can’t catch a whiff, it’s time to toss. Whole spices, however, can often last up to five years. Some of our favorite dried spices for soups and stews include:

bay leaf
caraway seeds
curry powder

garlic powder/salt
ground ginger
onion power/salt
red chili flakes

sea salt
star anise
black pepper
white pepper

Bay Leaf: Herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme, bay leaf is a must-have for soups and stews. When cooked with water or broth, it adds an understated bitterness that lifts and lightens heavy soups and stews. Bay leaf is a good source of vitamins A, B6 and C, which are known to support a healthy immune system.

Cumin: With its slightly sweet, warming flavor and nutty taste, cumin pairs well with chili flakes in chilis, as well as other recipes. In addition to being used in Mexican soups and stews, like pozole, it is a key ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes. Cumin has been known to aid digestion, boost immunity and support weight loss. It has also been used over the years to treat insomnia and respiratory disorders, as well as anemia, due to its iron-rich properties.

Turmeric: This is the ingredient that gives curry its yellow color. It’s earthy yet bitter, almost musky, peppery spice makes it perfect for savory curries, chicken and vegetable soups. This powerhouse spice is packed with antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties.


Fresh, hearty herbs like rosemary and thyme are often used in longer-simmering dishes, which make them perfect for soups and stews. Other fresh herbs, like parsley, cilantro, mint, chives and basil, add freshness and are often added at the end of cooking or when serving. Give these fresh herbs a try:


fresh chilis


Ginger: Much like garlic, fresh ginger mellows with cooking. Slightly peppery and sweet with a pungent and spicy aroma, fresh ginger can easily be added to carrot, cabbage, cauliflower and squash soups, as well as chicken and peanut-based soups. In addition to being used to treat nausea, it also has strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Fennel: This spice is a rich source of dietary fiber, and its powerful antioxidants may help remove harmful free radicals from the body. It has a mild anise or licorice flavor. When diced and sautéed for making a soup or stew, fennel becomes very sweet.

Sage: When used fresh, sage is extremely strong and should be used sparingly. It can, however, add great depth and flavor to a creamy butternut squash or savory tomato and chickpea soup. During the Middle Ages, sage was coveted for its healing properties and was even used to help prevent the plague. Current research indicates that sage may be able to improve brain function and memory, especially in people with Alzheimer’s disease.


There are many liquids that you probably already have in your refrigerator or pantry that make amazing additions to soups and stews. Give these add-ins a try to add a little something extra to your next dish.

ales / beer
apple cider vinegar
balsamic vinegar
citrus juices

fish sauce
mirin rice wine
oyster sauce
sesame oil

tamari / soy sauce
white miso paste
red or white wine
Worcestershire sauce

Beer/Ales: Beer is a welcome addition to cheese, beef- and pork-based soups.

Wine: Red wine is often used in beef stews whereas white wine can add something extra special to creamy chowders – either can make soups and stews more complex and flavor forward.

Vinegars: In addition to elevating vegetables and desserts, balsamic vinegar also serves a purpose in soups, stews and braises, such as lentil, barley or pumpkin. Apple cider vinegar serves as a tenderizer for marinating meats and will add a bit of zing to the dish.

Citrus: Lemon and lime juices can add brightness to chicken orzo soup or coconut-based soups.

Sauces & Oils: Fish and oyster sauces, as well as sesame oil, tamari, soy sauce and Worcestershire, add extra umami to soups and stocks.


Shrimp and Tomato Paella
Cowboy Crazy Beans with Brisket and Sausage
Northwest Cioppino
Vietnamese Pho with Chicken Meatballs
Beef Bone Broth Ramen with Ribeye and Mushrooms
Bavarian Pork, Vegetable and Ale Stew
LeParfait: Coconut & Curry Chicken Soup
Souper Cubes: Instant Pot Rustic Vegetable Soup
Catalan Seafood Stew
Irish Seafood Chowder

For more about the health benefits of herbs and spices:

10 Delicious Herbs and Spices With Powerful Health Benefits
Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs and Spices
Health Benefits Of 38 Important Spices From Around The World
Spices and Herbs That Can Help You Stay Healthy

Published On: February 14th, 2022

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