Serves 6 to 8
Time: 1 hour
I’m dedicating this month to comfort food recipes to help get you (and me) through the winter. Try as I might to traipse around in a hoodie all year round, I have to come to terms with the reality: winter is here. And that means lots of time warming up indoors. Maybe someday I’ll have a fireplace, but for now the heat of the stove gets me through.
So let’s kick things off with a comfort classic! You can think of it as a play on vegan chicken and dumplings or just take it for what it is — a soul-satisfying, thick and hearty stew with chunky potatoes and carrot, creamy white beans, all laced through and through with dilly yumminess. The dumplings soak up all that goodness on the outside, while staying deliciously doughy in the center.
The funnest part is spooning in the squashy squishy dumpling dough only to reveal beautifully firm and plump dumplings when you lift the lid minutes later. Makes you feel like a kitchen god. Or maybe that’s the cabin fever setting in.
~If your baby carrots are the plump kind, then slice them in half on a diagonal. If they’re thin, don’t bother. And if you’d like to use adult-sized carrots, peel and slice them in 1/4 inch diagonal pieces.
~I use a Le Creuset Dutch oven for this. You don’t need to use cast iron, but the wider the pot the better, because you need lots of surface area to make the roux and cook the biscuits later. If you don’t have a wide pot, then using a large, deep pan will work, too.
For the stew:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 medium sized sweet onion (like Vidalia or Walla Walla), quartered and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth, at room temperature
2 stalks celery, tops removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 pounds potato, in 3/4 inch chunks (peel if they’re russets)
1 cup baby carrots (see note)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Fresh black pepper
1 15 oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
For the dumplings:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoons dried rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or soy)
2 tablespoons olive oil
First we’re going to make a roux, but it has a little less fat than a traditional roux, which means it doesn’t get as goopy. If you’d like a more traditional roux, just add extra oil.
Preheat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat.
Add the oil and sprinkle in the flour. Use a wooden spatula to toss the flour in the oil, and stir pretty consistently for 3 to 4 minutes, until the flour is clumpy and toasty.
Add the onion and salt, and toss to coat the onions completely in the flour mixture. As the onions release moisture, they will coat more and more. Cook this way for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and stir for 30 more seconds or so.
Stream in the vegetable broth, whisking constantly to prevent clumping. Add the celery, potatoes, carrot, dill, thyme, paprika and black pepper, then turn the heat up and cover to bring to a boil. Keep a close eye and stir often, so that it doesn’t clump or boil over.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stew is nicely thickened and the potatoes and carrots are tender.
In the meantime, prepare the dumplings.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the rosemary. Make a well in the center and add the milk and olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to mix together until a wet dough forms.
When the stew is ready, mix in the beans and plop dough right on top of the stew in spoonfuls. You should get about 14 dumplings. Cover the pot tightly and cook for about 14 more minutes. The dumplings should be nice and firm. Use your ladle to dunk them into the stew to coat.
Ladle stew into bowls, topped with dumplings. And serve!