Vegetable Stew – Where’s the Beef?!

Vegetable Stew

Comfort food – the phrase conjures images of high-fat, meat-laden, foods that becoming a vegetarian would place well out of reach.  A scary thought.  And also untrue!  I’ve found that a lot of comfort food recipes can be easily adapted to be just as good or better than their meaty counterpart.  Not to mention a lot less fatty with none of the guilt.  Win win!

One of my favorite comfort foods has always been beef stew.  Now, even without the meat, I am able to create the hearty, delicious, comforting and satisfying flavor that I had been enjoying for years.  Plus, without all the tough meat that needs to tenderize, cook time is cut down significantly.

Here’s my recipe, adapted from the one I grew up eating.  When I make it, I like to make enough for leftovers, so the amounts I am listing are enough to feed my family of four (two adults and two young children) for about two nights.

Vegetable Stew

– 64oz V8 Juice

– 12 red potatoes – cubed (depending on size, you might want to use more or less)

– 1 large, or 2 medium onions – sliced

– 1lb baby carrots (I like to put them in whole.  They can be cut however you like them)

– 7-10 Stalks of Celery – sliced

– 1 package of mushrooms – whole or sliced (I used button, but de-gilled portobello can be used)

– approx 16oz frozen peas

– 1-2 tbsp butter

– 4 tbsp olive oil

– approx 5 tbsp flour

– 1 vegetable bouillon cube

– Salt and pepper to taste

(Create a Roux)
-Preheat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and some salt.  Cook onions until translucent, but not brown.  Add butter.  When melted, add flour until all the butter and oil are absorbed (you might need more or less than listed).  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3-4 minutes.  Do not brown.

– Stirring, add the entire bottle of V8 into the pot.  Add the rest of the vegetables, the bouillon cube and salt and pepper.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  Stew is almost ready when the vegetables are tender and the acidity of the V8 has reduced.  Add the peas, and cook until heated through.

– Best served with warm, crusty bread with butter if desired.

I kept the recipe traditional because that’s the way my family and I like to eat it.  Other vegetables (like parsnips or broccoli) can be added for more variety.  Also, if you like, herbs like thyme or rosemary can be added to give it a punchier flavor.

If you’ve been hesitating to make the switch to vegetarian because you fear you might miss meaty comfort food favorites like stew, or if you just want to skip the meat for a night, I hope you’ll give this recipe a try, and find out how delicious and fulfilling vegetables can be.  Enjoy!

And don’t forget to stay tuned…I’ve got lots more delicious recipes coming up!