Beefless Stew

by on March 21, 2006
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Beefless Stew

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.

Beefless Stew

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!

Beefless Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
When I first became a vegetarian many years ago, one of the first recipes I adapted was my mother’s beef stew. Back then I used tempeh and browned it in oil. But once I discovered seitan and TVP chunks, I liked them even better. This stew is super low in fat and a complete meal in itself!
Serves: 6
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Serve in bowls with fresh bread.
*Sodium can be reduced by using less salt and soy sauce.

You may need more liquid if you are using soy curls or any vegan protein that needs to be rehydrated.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/6 of recipe Calories: 205 Fat: 1g Carbohydrates: 39g Sodium: 938mg* Fiber: 13 Protein: 11


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rachael West November 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Stew is the perfect meal this time of year. I'm sitting here feeling the cold just work its way through my body. Delicious idea Susan.

I am not the biggest fan of beef as is so a beefless stew is right up my alley. I have several things I would gladly throw into this, especially some mushrooms and pasta noodles.

Thanks for sharing this,

Rachael West


2 Shirley January 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I live in a city with a Whole Foods Market, central Market, and a Sprouts has anyone found the TVP chunks in these stores? I really want to try this recipe and would rather avoid shipping charges.


3 Susan Voisin January 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Nowadays I use seitan chunks rather than TVP. They’re easier to find/make and don’t raise some of health concerns that TVP does.


4 shirley January 6, 2012 at 8:10 am

What are the health concerns with TVP?


5 Susan Voisin January 6, 2012 at 8:53 am

Most health experts now advocate that we avoid isolated soy protein (concentrated protein that has been extracted from soy beans), which is what TVP is. Here’s part of an article by Dr. John McDougall: “Another recent study showed how 40 grams of soy or cow-milk protein concentrate added to the diet significantly increases levels of a powerful cancer-promoting growth hormone, called Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 – IGF-1.29 However, soy protein was almost twice as powerful as the milk protein concentrate – doubling the levels of IGF-1 with 40 grams of soy protein isolate. This growth promoter has been strongly linked to the development of cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon. Excess IGF-1 stimulates cell proliferation and inhibits cell death – two activities you definitely don’t want when cancer cells are involved.” from


6 Vegi-K April 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I dry roasted the vegetables in the soy sauce and spices before adding to give extra flavor. Yum!


7 Lorene Johnson November 20, 2013 at 8:24 am

I do appreciate your healthy low fat recipes and personalization. Thank you.


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