This is the chunky vegetable stew with an attitude that screams 'grab another bowl' with its savory, distinctive flavors and delightful bites of potatoes, onions, carrots, and mushrooms.
Shout out for stew!
The thought of stew takes me to a place of warmth, comfort, and satisfaction. And I’ve been making versions of plant-based stews for a long time. I’ve played with all sorts of spice combinations, like Berbere or Baharat. When it came to creating something a bit more traditional, a stew reminiscent of those 'beefy' kinds I had as a kid, it took a bit of time to really get it 'right.'. I won’t complain a minute about all the testing. We ate every bite. You don’t need to ask me twice if potatoes are involved.
I wanted to make a stew with ingredients that didn’t require an online order for vegan 'beef' bouillon or other expensive or exotic ingredients. Challenge accepted!
Here’s what I learned
1. Start with a dice
If you want a chunky stew featuring whole vegetables and a thick sauce, you need to start with a few diced veggies. I decided that this was best accomplished by dicing up 2 of the shallots and 4 mushrooms (the rest used whole in the stew), and 3 stalks of celery. Along with garlic, this created the base.
2. Keep the spices simple
Rosemary and paprika (smoked if you like) balance an ‘herby’ flavor with a bit of kick. The dry mustard powder gives the stew a clean, tangy taste with plenty of ground black pepper for subtle hints of woody pine.
You might also consider adding dried or fresh thyme. This will help if you realize that you’re out of rosemary. You can also use a pinch of sage, oregano, or basil.
3. Flour to coat
Add flour directly into the sauteed, diced veggies to coat. This is one of the secret thickeners. Unlike pan gravy, where you want to combine arrowroot or flour with water before adding, if you stir in a tablespoon of flour right into the pan, you don’t end up with lumps.
I used whole wheat flour here. In addition to being an 'approved' plant-based ingredient, I personally like the sweeter flavor. It's a bit more sticky than highly processed white flour, but it coats the veggies well. When you add it before deglazing the pot, you are empowering the sauté to help with the thickening.
4. Go stout
Once you have the vegetables sauteed, have added the spices, and coated with the flour, you want to deglaze the pot. My favorite for vegetable stew? Guinness beer. Guinness is an unmistakable blend of malty sweetness, hoppy bitterness with slight hints of coffee. There’s a lot of substance to this particular beer. It’s the gravy maker. Guinness is distributed worldwide, but if you can’t find it, use a dark, ‘hoppy’ beer. Beers call ‘stout’ are usually a good option.
This isn't a drunken stew. The alcohol will dissipate as the stew cooks. If you opt for a booze-free stew, you can make a substitution with veggie broth (1 ½ cups) and a tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce. I won’t promise you the same flavor as that with Guinness, but you will definitely have a hearty stew to enjoy.
Realizing that I needed to balance the slight bitterness of the beer with 2 tablespoons of date paste was my recipe linchpin. The tomato paste does add sweetness, but the date paste balances the palate so that the flavors all blend without the beer dominating.
4. Eat the whole thing
Use small, whole veggies like baby potatoes, button mushrooms, and even baby carrots. When it comes to small whole onions, I rarely get past creamed onions (because they are so good)), but upon my hubby's suggestion, I added them to stew. Good thinking! For the ease of prepping and for their mellower flavor, I choose shallots. Perform a quick trim of the tops and tails, peel them and add them along with everything else. The onions will fall apart as they bake. This results in delightful onion chunks that won’t overpower everything else. That's serious stew magic.
5. The oven is your friend
The easiest way for me to slow cook stew is by first preparing it on the stovetop in my heavy oven-proof pot and then baking it, covered for about 90 minutes. Depending on your circumstance, you may also want to add the prepped stew to a slow cooker. Additionally, you can simmer your stew slowly on the stovetop. Beyond cooking the potatoes and veggies to tender, cooking time allows the sauce to reduce and intensifies the flavor.
Other veggies you might add
Think of this as another 'nothing but veggies stew.' It’s my American answer to slow-roasted Greek veggie stew (Briam). Most countries have some version of stew dishes. These are not just regionalized but personalized. That means you can make modifications depending on available ingredients and taste preferences.
Am I the only person who’s made a ‘use it up’ stew? You know, the one where you go through the crisper and pantry just up what’s leftover. Vegetable stew is the perfect place for small amounts of veggies to land. Here’s some inspiration:
Green beans (fresh or frozen)
Corn (this adds a sweet flavor)
Brussels sprouts – yes, sprouts. Add them whole.
Root vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, celeriac cut into chunks to retain their integrity.
If you insist, there are a few natural non-veggie options you may want to add. Kidney beans tend to compliment the other flavors.
Bulgur or pearl barley will add a ground beef texture. Add about ½ a cup along with an additional cup of veggie broth.
Simmered tempeh crumbles add additional protein and a meaty texture. We are huge fans of loaded tempeh stew, so it seems a natural fit to add it to this recipe if you are a tempeh fan. Be sure to simmer it first so that it is tender and less bitter tasting.
There’s always a slight apprehension when I get to the stew part when I slip a heavy pot into the heated oven. What’s happening in there? Will it be thick enough? Will one ingredient win the flavor war? And then the smell starts to waft through the house, and I know I’m getting closer to solving the charming mystery of stew. Grab a bowl and a spoon, maybe a few slices of homemade bread. We’re on! Peace.Print
Chunky vegetable stew is chock-full of whole veggies, a thick gravy powered by Guinness, for a plant-based dinner that screams 'grab another bowl.'
- 2 cups of shallots (1 lb. or 400 gm.). Peeled with the ends cut off. Small dice 2 of the shallots
- 8 oz. (225 gm.) button mushrooms. Clean the mushrooms and chop 4 of them, leaving the rest whole.
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. rosemary
- 1 tsp. mustard powder
- 1 tsp. paprika (smoked or regular)
- ½ tsp. salt (optional)
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. flour (whole wheat)
- 1 bottle Guinness beer (14 oz./440 ml.). See notes for substitution.
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp. date paste or another liquid sweetener
- 4 cups baby potatoes (2 lbs./900 gm.), washed and scrubbed
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 3 bay leaves
- Preheat the oven to 3000 F (1500 C.).
- Dice 2 of the shallots, 4 of the mushrooms, and the celery.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot over medium heat.
- Add 4 diced mushrooms, 2 chopped shallots, and 3 stalks of diced celery and sauté the veggies until they soften and start to brown slightly. 5 – 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, mustard, rosemary, paprika, and black pepper and stir for another 30 seconds.
- Add 1 tbsp. of flour and stir to cover the vegetables.
- Deglaze the pot with the Guinness (see notes for substitutions).
- Allow the ingredients to simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the liquid and allow the sauce to thicken.
- Stir in the tomato paste and date paste.
- Add the veggie broth, the carrots, the potatoes, and the rest of the shallots and mushrooms. And the bay leaves.
- Cover and place the pot in the oven. Bake for 1 hour or more until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened and reduced.
- Remove the stew from the oven and allow it to settle for about 10 minutes.
- If you cannot find Guinness, use another stout beer. You can also substitute 1 ½ cups of vegetable broth along with 1 Tbsp. of vegan Worcestershire sauce.
- In addition to oven-baked, you can cook your stew in a slow cooker or simmer it on low on the stove for at least an hour. The more you cook it, the thicker it will get.
- If you don’t have dried rosemary or want to include other dry herbs, consider thyme, oregano, or a bit of basil.
- The mass of ingredients can vary, so be sure you add enough vegetable broth that the potatoes have enough room to simmer. Likewise, if you discover that the stew is getting too thick, add more broth. Cooking the stew longer is the best way to thicken the stew. If you add flour at later stages, it may clump.
- Category: Soups and Stews
- Cuisine: plant-based
Keywords: vegetable stew