Healthy Brunswick Stew
Published Dec 14, 2021, Updated Nov 08, 2022
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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.
Origin of Brunswick Stew
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little research I found that Brunswick stew likely originated in Brunswick, Virginia during the 19th century and it was originally made with squirrel meat.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!
- olive oil – to sauté the garlic and onion in for a flavor base.
- fresh vegetables – a combination of yellow onion, garlic, carrots, celery and red skinned potatoes. Try to chop these all to a similar size so they cook at the same pace and every bite is a good ratio!
- frozen vegetables – no need to thaw the frozen corn and lima beans but make sure you give them a good rinse and drain before adding to the soup.
- diced tomatoes – I used canned diced tomatoes for a shortcut. Feel free to use fire roasted tomatoes to add a hint of spice!
- chicken broth – I recommend using low sodium broth so you can control how much salt there is in the soup! Vegetable broth also works.
- dried parsley – the perfect herb pairing for this soup.
- bay leaf – this little herb makes a big impact! Simmer a bay leaf during cooking to release the flavor-packed essential oils. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
- Worcestershire sauce – a little goes a long way! It will cut through the richness and adds a delicious depth of flavor.
- shredded chicken – leftover shredded chicken works great for this recipe, but you can also make a quick batch using my slow cooker shredded chicken recipe, Instant Pot shredded chicken recipe or making shredded chicken using a rotisserie chicken.
- salt and pepper – to taste.
- hot sauce – you’ll mix in just a touch of hot sauce but I like serving with extra hot sauce as well.
- fresh parsley – instantly level up your soup with a fresh herb garnish. Parsley pairs perfectly with this soup!
How to Make Healthy Brunswick Stew
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.
How to Serve Brunswick Stew
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:
- Bread – this would be delicious with a crunchy bread like sourdough or honey whole wheat bread.
- Crackers – add extra crunch with my 4-ingredient almond flour crackers.
- Salad – I love serving soups with salads! My easy quinoa salad, sweet kale salad or easy spinach salad would all be great options.
How to Store Leftovers
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.
More Tasty Soups and Stews
Be sure to check out all of the soup recipes here on EBF!
Healthy Brunswick Stew
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- ¾ cup chopped celery
- 2 small red skinned potatoes, chopped
- 2 cups frozen corn, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup frozen lima beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 32 oz carton low sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 ½ cups shredded chicken (about 1.25 lbs boneless chicken breasts)
- fresh parsley, for garnish
- hot sauce, for serving
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large casserole pan/dutch oven. Add onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until fragrant and soft.
- Add in carrots, celery and potatoes, canned tomatoes, broth, corn, lima beans, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, bay leaf, salt, pepper and hot sauce.
- Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat simmer for 30-45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally.
- Remove bay leaf and add in shredded chicken, stir to combine and cook an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is heated through. If stew seems too thin, you can mash up some of the potatoes with a fork to create a thicker broth. If the stew is too thick, you can add more chicken broth or water, starting with 1/2 cup.
- Once stew is ready to serve, place in bowls and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with hot sauce so everyone can add as much or as little spice as they like.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.