Perfect Weather for this Vegetable Beef Stew!
I love it when the weather starts to turn cold! It’s a time of year we really enjoy here in the desert southwest, since it is generally a short season for us. I don’t know about you, but cool weather always brings out the soup and stew lover in me, which is what inspired this vegetable beef stew recipe recently.
This recipe is based on a traditional beef and potato stew, but packs in lower carb root veggies instead of potatoes. And even though it’s not traditional stew fare, I also add in some kale.
For a long time, the only soup I would make without a recipe was a ham and lentil soup. But as I’ve been honing my cooking skills, soups and stews are one thing I’ve gotten much better at making up on the fly. It’s fun to pull together some veggies, a protein, and a flavor profile, and create a yummy soup with it. Once you have the basic cooking technique down, the sky’s really the limit with making all manner of tasty creations!
If you want to jump straight to this vegetable beef stew recipe, you can do that at the link below. But, if you are curious to learn a little more about the process for building a basic soup or stew, read on below.Jump to Recipe
Basic Soup or Stew Method
If you are wondering what the basic method is for making a soup or stew, I am going to break it down for you below. Use this as a guide, and modify for the ingredients you have on hand or the flavors you prefer. The main difference between a soup and a stew is that the stew is thicker, and might include heartier ingredients.
Collect and Prep Ingredients
You typically want to include a vegetable base called a mirepoix – diced carrots, celery, and onion. You will saute the mirepoix early on in the soup making. This does a lot to start building up your flavors.
Other ingredients can include your choice of more veggies, grains, beans, greens, and meat.
Once you’ve decided on and collected your ingredients, prep them all. Dice the veggies for the mirepoix. Cut the rest of the veggies and any meat into larger bit sized pieces. Beans should be cooked ahead (or use canned). Grains can be cooked right in the soup,
If starting with a raw meat, prep by seasoning it with salt and pepper. Add some flour as well if you’d like some added thickness, to make more of a stew. You can also cook the meat ahead, and just add it in towards the end – this works particularly well with shredded chicken, for example.
Start Cooking: Meat First
I like to cook my soups and stews in a dutch oven, or a large thick-walled stainless steel pot.
Begin by cooking the meat, to start a layer of flavors on the bottom of your pan that you can build your soup from.
To cook: heat some oil in the pot, and brown the meat on all sides. If there is too much meat for a single layer in the pot, cook in batches. Remove once browned and set aside to drain on some paper towels. You want to keep the browned bits on the bottom of the pan – they will add a lot of flavor to your soup!
Keep Cooking: Layer on the Flavors
To the same pan where you cooked the meat, add the mirepoix along with another pinch of salt, and cook until softened and starting to brown.
Add in other veggies that may need a slight saute, such as mushrooms. If including garlic, always add it in towards the end so it only sautes for about 30 seconds. Burned garlic will turn bitter!
Add the liquid (broth, diced tomatoes, etc), and return the meat to the pan with any remaining veggies to be cooked in the soup. If you want a thicker stew-like consistency, keep the liquid addition to a minimum.
Also include any grains at this time. Wild rice, barley, and farro, (to name a few) all make great soup additions. If including grains, keep an eye on the cooking liquid while it simmers. They will absorb quite a lot, so you may want to start with extra, or top off as the soup cooks.
Simmer til Tender, Season as you Cook
Simmer covered for 10-15 minutes, then taste and adjust for seasoning and other flavors. I like to adjust the seasoning after the soup has started cooking, as the flavors develop more over time. Seasons to add include salt and pepper at a minimum. And then anything else you are going for. Herbs? Mexican spices such as cumin or chile powders? Curry or other east Asian spice blends?
Continue to simmer, covered, or with lid slightly cracked, until all ingredients are fork tender. Taste along the way to be sure it is good 🙂
Add the Final Ingredients
If adding in some greens like chard, kale, or spinach, add them towards the end of your cooking time, when the other ingredients are nearly tender. This is also when you would add already cooked meat like chicken or sausage, and cooked or canned beans. Allow 10-15 minutes for the greens to wilt down nicely, and the other ingredients to warm through.
Finally, if you want a creamy base, stir in some heavy cream at the end until satisfied with the consistency.
Often when I am making soups or stews, there are some random ingredients in the fridge that fit in nicely, and need to be used up, but aren’t essential to the soup itself. Keep that in mind when you are putting together your own creative soup or stew!
And now for the featured vegetable beef stew recipe!
- *Optional ingredients marked with an asterisk
Mirepoix – should be an even mixture of these three ingredients, about 1 cup total
- 1 large carrot (minced)
- 1/2 yellow onion (minced)
- 2 celery stalks (minced)
- 2 pounds boneless beef chuck (cut into 1 inch cubes)
- 1 large carrot (sliced)
- 1 parsnip (sliced)
- 1 rutabaga (diced)
- 4 oz mushrooms (cut into thick slices)
- 1 leek* (just the white stalk, minced)
- 1 jalapeno* (minced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 4 cups kale (about 1 bunch, roughly chopped)
- ½ cup barley or farro
- 5 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 14oz can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups beef broth (more as needed)
- 4 tbsp cooking oil (I use canola, but any high heat cooking oil of your choice will do)
- 2 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
- 2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
- ½ tsp Cayenne* (if you want a little extra spice)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
Prep and Brown the Meat
- Toss beef cubes in a bowl with flour, salt and pepper, until coated.
- Heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil in your soup pan (be sure the oil coats the bottom of the pan).
- Brown the meat – no more than a single layer in the pan, so cook in batches if needed. Add another tablespoon of oil as needed if cooking multiple batches.
- Remove browned meat to a paper towel lined bowl and reserve.
Saute the Veggies
- Proceed to cook veggies in the same pot, building on the caramelization from cooking the meat. You want to keep all those yummy flavors in the soup! Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan if needed, prior to starting the mirepoix.
- Add the mirepoix first – minced carrots, onion, and celery.
- Saute with a pinch of salt til softened.
- Add mushrooms and saute until they have released much of their water.
- Add leek and jalapeno and saute until softened.
- Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add tomato paste and mix into the sauted vegetables. Cook for 1 minute, until evenly mixed together.
Combine and Simmer
- Add the diced tomatoes and broth.
- Add in the meat with the remaining root vegetables (carrot, parsnip, rutabega).
- If using barley or farro, stir into the stew here.
- Simmer until veggies and meat are fork tender, at least 1 hour (and up to 2).
- While cooking, season with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and cayenne (if desired).
- When the meat and veggies are nearly tender, add the chopped kale and cook another 15 minutes or until tender.
- During the cooking time, keep an eye on the liquid. Add more as needed until desired consistency is reached. You may need to add additional liquid while cooking, especially if you've added in some grains.
- Garnish with fresh parsley or chives.
- Add a dollop of sour cream!
- Root veggies (modified per below) – 4 cups = 8 greens
- Chopped kale – 4 cups = 4 greens
- Mushrooms – 1 cup = 1 green
- Mirepoix – 1 cup = 2 greens
- Diced tomatoes – 1.5 cups = 3 greens
- 2 pounds beef chuck = 5.3oz raw per serving, so should be about right at 6-5oz servings when cooked.
- Leave out the flour, tomato paste, parsnip, and leeks
- Increase carrots/rutabagas, or add in kabocha squash (a nice low-carb squash option), so that you still have 4 cups of root veggies
- Reduce the onion in the mirepoix to 6 tablespoons
- Be careful with the broth you choose
- Use a nonstick pot that will allow you to use minimal oil for cooking