We are introducing son Jack as a contributor on the blog. Today he is sharing this beefless stew and the story behind how it came to be. As he says, it may not look beautiful, but it’s a beautiful thing to have.
The Beefless Stew Story
This stew was made out of necessity.
I work part-time on a local organic farm in Watch Hill, RI, and I was handed a few cubic feet of string beans (green, red, and wax) on top of a batch of arm-sized squash and zucchini. The owner’s wife, the primary operator of the farm, told me about preparing a stew with a mess of beans, and so I took that advice and added in a bunch of other stuff.
The effective role of this beefless stew is to be a catch-all for produce lying around the house. When in doubt, chopping it all up and putting it in a stew works wonders, and it is particularly hard to screw up. So far, this particular arrangement mimics beef stew wonderfully. Using more string beans, less potatoes, swapping in squash, peppers, corn, and other protein-rich beans can change the character of the stew without doing anything to decrease its appeal.
Add cayenne pepper if you require a bolder taste that your tongue may tangle with. As mentioned above, this is not just a recipe to try; this is a stew framework, the fundamentals for making huge amounts of food in a short time with little prep or attention required. For those so inclined, this beefless stew is a very, very hearty dish (see: lentils and potatoes) with a tablespoon or less of fat in the whole gallons-level batch.
- 2 vidalia onions
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- Less than a tablespoon of oil (coconut, olive, sunflower, etc)
- 6 cups vegetable stock broth
- 5 russet potatoes
- 2 large carrots
- 3 sticks of celery
- 1 cup chopped basil
- 1 cup uncooked lentils
- 2 cups water
- 6 cups beans
- Chop/slice/dice everything into bite-sized pieces. Set aside for the moment.
- Get a big pot. Really big. Dutch oven preferred, otherwise you may need to reduce some quantities.
- Saute chopped onions, mushrooms, garlic until they're nicely browned and soft with oil in the bottom of said pot.
- Add vegetable stock to the pot, then dump everything else in.
- Add a reasonable amount of salt'n'peppa
- Bring to a boil under the lid, and then let simmer on low heat until you feel like eating it