Yesterday was supposedly the first day of Spring, but you wouldn’t know it from our weather. It’s been raining for days and the temperature has been pretty chilly for Mississippi. So last night I resorted to a favorite family comfort-food: Beefless Stew.
I try not to use many processed “meats” in my cooking, but every now and then they come in handy for making a childhood favorite dish into something I can still enjoy as a vegan. When I first became a vegetarian, I made this stew with tempeh. Later I discovered Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) and liked it even better. But after reading about the health concerns associated with the soy protein isolates in TVP, I now make the stew with soy curls or with seitan, which turns out to be the tastiest option.
The basic recipe for Beefless Stew is endlessly adaptable; I never make it the same way twice, adding herbs to taste and varying amounts to fit the ingredients I have on-hand. For instance, that batch of stew you see in the photo above (which was taken by my budding photographer daughter) contained only about 2 ounces of mushrooms and they were baby portabellas, because that’s all I had in the fridge. And I didn’t use the millet this time around, so it’s completely optional. And ditto for the wine: the red wine adds a great deal of flavor, but I didn’t have any so I skipped it. And I had yukon gold potatoes instead of red.
Anyway, you get the picture. It’s home-style cooking at its easiest–just toss it all in a pot and cook. If you make it and use any new ingredients, please drop me a comment and let me know. It’s my mom’s recipe, but I won’t tell her you changed it!
- 8 small red potatoes — cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 large onion — chopped
- 2 celery ribs — chopped
- 8 ounces mushrooms — quartered (halved then quartered, if large)
- 2 large carrots — sliced thick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- freshly ground pepper — to taste
- 1/4 cup red wine — (optional)
- 1 pound cubed seitan or 1 cup soy curls or 2 packages tempeh, cubed
- 1/4 cup millet — (uncooked)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Fill a 5-quart saucepan or dutch oven 2/3 full of water (about 8 cups). Add the first 13 ingredients, potatoes through pepper, and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, until the onions are cooked and the potatoes start to soften.
- Add the red wine (if desired), seitan (or other protein), and millet. Check to make sure there is enough liquid and add water if necessary. Cook until the millet is completely cooked (not hard anymore), about 20 minutes. Add peas.
- Mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water (or additional red wine, if desired). Stir the mixture into the stew and cook until the stew thickens slightly. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve in bowls with fresh bread.
You may need more liquid if you are using soy curls or any vegan protein that needs to be rehydrated.