Winter Stew

Comfort in a bowl, served with a heavily buttered slice of sourdough bread

Seasonal Stew

While I’m happy to eat stew year round, there’s something about a piping hot bowl of stew that brings a unique comfort to chilly, rainy autumn and winter nights. I’m not too precious or traditional about what veg goes into my stews, and I’ve recently starting adding swede which is a welcome sweet addition. Swede is a bit of an unsung hero as far as nutritional powerhouses go; a local staple, brimming with vitamins A, C and E, plenty of gut-healthy insoluble fiber, calcium and potassium. It can be eaten raw, or cooked, and makes a wonderful addition to almost any dish.

My love of baking sourdough hasn’t waned throughout the pandemic, and though I can find near enough any excuse to eat a slice, dunking a buttered wedge of freshly baked sourdough into this stew is a thing of beauty. It’s also important to this meal given the comfort it brings as a necessary pairing to all soups and stews. With the wind howling and the rain battering against the windows, all that was missing from this evening was a roaring fire and a dram of whisky!

This dish can either be made on the hob as I’ve outlined in the recipe below, in a slow cooker or even instant pot if you’re short on time. If making in an instant pot, save any veg that doesn’t take much cooking for the end (for example, if you decide to add courgette or peppers), and re-seal for an additional 2 – 3 minutes on high pressure so that it doesn’t turn to mush. Most root veg does well in an instant pot for a quick 10 minutes on high pressure after sauteeing the onion and spices until the onion has softened. Pressure cooking also means you can reduce the amount of liquid used by 25% or more, depending on your preference.

Ingredients

Yield: 6 servings

1 large onion, diced
2 Tbsp oil, divided
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried oregano
4 sprigs fresh thyme, woody stems removed
1 tsp ground cumin
3 carrots, cubed
2 potatoes, cubed
150g swede, cubed
100g mushrooms, quartered
3 tsp salt
2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tin diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato puree
1L veg stock
1 Tbsp sugar (this helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes)

Preparation (about 20 minutes prep, plus 40 minutes cooking time on the hob)

1. In a pot over medium-high heat, add oil and once hot, sautee onions until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add spices and continue to cook until fragrant.

2. Add the stock, scraping up any stuck on bits of onion, garlic and spices from the bottom of the pot. Add remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the potaotes and sweede are thoroughly cooked.

4. Adjust seasoning as necessary, and serve piping hot with a healthy wedge of sourdough or other crusty bread – of course with plenty of butter (dairy or vegan) to balance the acidity of the stew.

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