This Grandma Tip for Degreasing Soups and Stews Works Like Magic

published Oct 12, 2022
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someone is lifting a ladle full of beef stew out of a large pot filled with beef stew
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Once the weather starts to cool down and it finally begins to feel like true fall is upon us, few meals hit the spot quite like soups and stews. Whether you prefer a traditional beef stew, a chicken tortilla soup with customized toppings, or a vegetarian chili, there’s something for everyone.

What might not be for everyone, though, is having an overload of grease and oil sitting at the top of your stew. Luckily, though, there’s a way to fix that! This hack goes beyond spooning the grease from the top (although that’s always an option).

Recently Barbara Costello (of Brunch with Babs), home cook and author of Celebrate with Babs, posted a video on TikTok demonstrating this simple hack for extracting the grease out of a super-oily soup or stew. All you need is a stainless steel ladle filled with a few ice cubes! Hold the ice-filled ladle gently over the surface of the soup or stew wherever you see extra grease. The ladle works like a magnet, attracting the oil rising to top of the soup.

I was so impressed when I first saw this simple yet ingenious hack, I had to try it for myself. At home, I made a large pot of pasta e fagioli, which had a good amount of grease from the Italian sausage as well as the extra oil from the extra-virgin olive oil I used to sauté the minced vegetables. Once the soup was nearly done, I used this trick with the ladle.

Credit: Photo: Cory Fernandez
Ladle with grease on the bottom

The coldness from the bottom of the label acts like a glue, picking up grease from the surface of the soup. In my case, this worked very well for my thick soup, which you can see from the photo above.

I also tried this hack with a thinner, less greasy homemade chicken stock, but unfortunately it didn’t work very well. What I’ve gleaned is that this hack works best for very saucy soups and stews with a lot of extra grease like chili made with high-fat ground beef or sausage, stews made with fatty cuts of beef or other meat, and homemade sauces that have a good amount of cooking oil.