This healthy Brunswick stew is just like the southern classic, but made with simple and wholesome ingredients – no ketchup or BBQ sauce needed!
Brunswick stew is a Virginia classic, but it isn’t something I grew up eating. I was first introduced to this thick stew when I met Isaac in college. He and his roommates loved Mrs. Fearnow’s and they would stock up whenever it was on sale. Truth be told, Isaac still likes it and there’s a can in our pantry right now.
Staring into the pantry one night I saw the yellow can and finally decided I needed to make a homemade healthy Brunswick stew for him.
After a little research I found that Brunswick stew likely originated in Brunswick, Virginia during the 19th century and it was originally made with squirrel meat.
I looked at a couple recipes online for inspiration, but ultimately ended up using the ingredient list from a can of Mrs. Fearnow’s as my guide because it’s short and overall pretty wholesome. Some of the recipes online called for cups of ketchup, chili sauce, BBQ sauce and creamed corn. I’m not a fan of using a ton of packaged products (because they usually have a lot of added sugar and preservatives) so this recipe skips those things.
The only packaged sauces you’ll need are Worcestershire and hot sauce. Although if you decide you want to add a little BBQ sauce, you can use my homemade healthy BBQ sauce recipe.
If you’re looking for a warm and comforting meal, I highly recommend making a batch of this healthy Brunswick stew. It’s loaded with flavor and truly something the whole family will enjoy!
Start by sautéing the onion and garlic in a large casserole pan or dutch oven. Sauté until the vegetables are fragrant and soft. Add in the carrots, celery, potatoes, canned tomatoes, broth, corn, lima beans, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, bay leaf, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 30-45 minutes or until all of the vegetables are tender. The potatoes will take the longest to cook so check those!
Remove the bay leaf and add in the shredded chicken. Stir to combine and cook for an extra 5 minutes to heat the chicken. Once the stew is ready to serve, place in bowls and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with additional hot sauce so everyone can add as much or as little spice as they like.
pro tip! If stew seems too thin, you can mash up some of the potatoes with a fork to create a thicker broth. If it's too thick, you can add more broth or water.
You can cook the chicken directly in the broth with the vegetables to cook, but I prefer to cook the chicken ahead of time (or use rotisserie chicken) and add the cooked chicken to the soup to reheat. This allows me to make sure the chicken is fully cooked and allows the soup to come together in no time at all! If you do cook the chicken in the soup, add the chicken in step 2 when you add the veggies and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes or until it is fully cooked. When chicken is fully cooked, remove and shred. Simmer the stew for an additional 10-25 minutes until veggies are tender. Once the veggies are tender add chicken back into the soup and serve with fresh parsley and hot sauce.
I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see why not! Just add raw chicken breasts and the rest of the ingredients to your slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours and low for 7-8 hours until chicken can easily shred with a fork and veggies are tender.
I haven’t tried this method, but someone else has and said it worked perfectly. To cook this stew in your Instant Pot start by adding olive oil and putting it on the sauté setting. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add raw chicken and the remaining ingredients (besides the parsley and hot sauce) to the Instant Pot. Place the lid on the pressure cooker, lock the lid and make sure the pressure release valve is closed. Press cancel to stop sautéing and then press the soup/stew button and set the time to 30 minutes. Once the timer reaches 0, the cooker will switch to “keep warm”. Carefully switch the pressure release valve to open to quickly release the pressure. Be super careful during this! I recommend using a towel over the valve or use tongs so you don’t burn yourself with the steam. Once the steam is released, remove the lid and use a fork to shred the chicken.
After portioning the soup into bowls, top with fresh parsley and serve with extra hot sauce so everyone can add extra spice to their liking. This stew is a meal in one but here are some serving suggestions if you want it to be a part of a larger meal:
After allowing the soup to cool slightly, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. You could try freezing for longer storage but the texture of the vegetables may change a bit during freezing.
Be sure to check out all of the soup recipes here on EBF!