Transitional Vegetable-Bean Stew

So, I needed a dish that would solve a multitude of problems.

1) The Husband needed a soup/stew sort of thing to pack in his lunch this week.

2) There were all kinds of little bits, pieces, smatterings of vegetables around the house, that weren’t enough to do anything with by themselves.

3) I’m still suffering from Summer/Fall whiplash, and needed this to be a one-pot wonder that would soothe my soul, and not require my constant attention.

Here you go.

Transitional Vegetable-Bean Stew (Inspired by Hearty Ten-Vegetable Stew, America’s Test Kitchen)

2 T olive oil
10 oz mushrooms, washed, trimmed, halved if small, quartered if large
1 red bell pepper, 1/2 inch dice
1 leek, trimmed, washed well, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced thinly (about 2 cups)
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled, 1/2 inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 T tomato paste
1 T minced garlic
2 C Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grains and Beans Soup Mix
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled, 1/2 inch dice (about 1 cup)
3 parsnips, trimmed, peeled, 1/2 inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 sprig rosemary
1 15 oz can vegetable broth
4 C water
2 small pattypan or summer squashes, trimmed, sliced thinly (about 1 cup)
1/2 small head cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups)
1 T minced parsley
1 T lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

I don’t usually do much product placement, but I will gladly drop this name: Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grains and Beans Soup Mix. I spotted it in the natural foods aisle of the grocery store. The package states it is “robust and satisfying”, and it’s absolutely correct. I have cooked it up with just onions, garlic, and kale, but last night I had other plans. I used what I learned in the vegetable stew lesson at America’s Test Kitchen to come up with this combination of summer and fall vegetables that I had on hand, and built in flavor at every step. Served with some nearly-forgotton corn-on-the-cob (how does that even happen?), and crusty bread, this was exactly the dinner I was hoping for, and The Husband has the leftovers all packed up in lunch-sized containers for this week.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, stirring to prevent scorching, and allow to just soften, lower the heat to medium, cover the pot and allow to cook until juices are released, about 5-7 minutes. I did check a couple of times to make sure they weren’t drying out, but there wasn’t any danger of that.

Remove the cover, and continue to cook the mushrooms, until they are browned, and the juices are evaporated. Add in the bell pepper, carrot, and leeks, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Stir, and cook until softened and lightly browned. These vegetables will release some more juices, so you may want to raise the temperature to medium-high to speed up the evaporation and browning.

Stir in the tomato paste and garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add the soup mix, the sweet potato and the parsnip, stir to mix well, then add the vegetable broth, water, and rosemary sprig. Stir again, getting any browned bits up off the bottom of the pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the beans and grains are just tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

When the beans are just tender, add in the squash and cabbage, stirring to submerge the cabbage. It looks like a lot, but cooks down quite a bit. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the beans are tender, but not mushy. Add the parsley and lemon juice, remove the rosemary stem, stir, and serve.

The mushrooms provide a meaty texture and flavor to this vegetarian dish, and the whole thing was very earthy, with some sweetness from the sweet potatoes and bell pepper. The vegetables were very soft, so if you like your vegetables more chunky, with some bite to them, cut them into 1-inch dice instead, so they will outlast the long cooking time of the beans.

The whole family gobbled this right down, and I can see myself riffing on this recipe with other vegetable combinations all fall and winter long. I hope you can find the soup mix at your local store, but if you can’t, I’m sure you could substitute another mix, just adjusting liquid amounts and cooking times as needed.

That’s it for now, thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you on down the Road.

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