The Sweet Addition That Will Thicken Up Chicken Stew

Chicken stew is a broad term that encompasses many regional and global variations, but at its core, it typically encompasses chicken, vegetables, and some kind of seasoned broth. MasterClass provides more specifics, stating that chicken soup has more broth than chicken stew, which makes the latter much thicker and more hearty. Fresh herbs and garlic are commonly used to flavor such stews, but ingredients like brown sugar, bell peppers, and browning sauces may also be used if you were dining in, say, Jamaica.

Speaking of other countries, chicken stew extends beyond fixings like potatoes, carrots, and onions. In Hungary, for instance, paprikás csirke (or chicken paprikash) utilizes Hungarian sweet paprika, Italian frying peppers, and fresh tomatoes. Sour cream is usually dolloped on top and the dish is finished with a light dusting of extra paprika, via Saveur. Or, if you happen to know a thing or two about Acadian cuisine, then you might have heard of chicken fricot, which is essentially a bowl of chicken and dumplings, but this version includes chopped savory, an herb that can be either spicy (summer savory) or earthy (winter savory), per MasterClass.

Aside from the flavor aspect of chicken stews, the broth is essential to providing those hearty, "comfort" feelings upon consumption, and this can't be achieved with thin or watery broth. So here's how to thicken up chicken stew with a subtle element of sweetness.

Grab some sweet potatoes

MasterClass states that potatoes are often found in chicken stew recipes, ranging from Yukon gold potatoes to russet varieties. But we'll bet that you don't see sweet potatoes in most recipes.

Contrary to popular belief, sweet potatoes aren't potatoes at all. They're a separate type of starchy vegetable that tastes like sweetened carrots and are packed with fiber and vitamins, per Have a Plant and American Sweet Potato. And like potatoes, sweet potatoes will enhance the thickness of a chicken stew when they're cooked, as the first source explains. That's because some of the starches tend to break free from potatoes during the cooking process, and those starches help to naturally thicken soups and broths, via this separate MasterClass source and Food Crumbles.

If you're worried about the stew being too thick, you can either dial back on the number of sweet potatoes or rest easy with this fact from Nutritics: boiled sweet potatoes have much less starch than boiled potatoes (approximately 53% less per 100 grams). In other words, sweet potatoes won't make the stew as thick as if you used regular potatoes.

Textures aside, sweet potatoes may also impart several flavor notes to the chicken stew, such as earthiness, nuttiness, and of course, sweetness, per Specialty Produce. So think of this as a way of "leveling up" a chicken stew with added dimension, depth, and flavor contrasts.