Serves 6 to 8
Time: 45 minutes
I’ve been on a mission to build a better vegan beef stew. Anyone can throw some wine and tomatoes into a pot but even with all the right ingredients, it’s all too easy to make a flat stew. I wanted deep complex flavors, a thick and silky base, chunky carrots and potatoes cooked just right. And of course, beefiness. And I wanted it to all happen in one pot. A simple filling stew shouldn’t destroy the entire kitchen.
Put plainly, I wanted the “DAAAAYAMN!” factor. Nothing too fussy, but a bowl that not only comforts you on a cold winter’s night, it straight-up makes you look forward to the snowiest, windiest, all-the-roads-shut-downiest night possible, just so you can make stew.
So I pulled a Cook’s Illustrated and made vegan beef stews all week. Chipping away at the recipe, then building it back up. I tried several different “beefs”; tofu, tempeh, and seitan, finally settling on a mix of homemade vegan sausage and dried porcini mushrooms. Tofu was a little too mushy, or took too much work to make it not mushy. Tempeh just crumbled too much, despite my best efforts. The seitan sausage provides flavor and hearty texture without needing to be sauteed, while the porcinis create a sultry broth and a falling-off-the-bone meatiness (that phrase isn’t gross when you consider that there aren’t any actual bones here, right?) that just sings “Beef Stew.”
For the base I knew I didn’t want a limp tomato sauce. In fact, I wanted to steer away from tomato as much as possible. I tried lentils as a backdrop but it was too…lentil-y. I also tried starting with a roux, and it was yummy but too thick…more like a sauce than a stew, plus it made the veggies cook unevenly. Finally, I settled on a slurry — a mix of water and flour that can be added after the veggies have cooked. When slowly heated it becomes thick (but not too thick) and velvetty, and holds in all the great flavor from the wine, mushrooms and spices. Just a touch of tomato paste provided even more body and a hint of tang.
The other challenge was getting the veggies to cook perfectly. Potatoes overcook easily and I didn’t want potato soup. Adding the potatoes after the initial ingredients come to a boil and then simmering them until tender is a fool proof method. Then the slurry is added and cooked just long enough to marry the flavors and create TSH (Total Stew Harmony.)
So yeah, long-story-that-I-just-made-you-read-short: I love this stew! The one thing that maybe isn’t ideal is that you need to have the sausages on hand, but they are so very easy to whip up. Make a batch the night before and you’ll have more than you need for this recipe so it’s totally worth it. But there are some alternatives, see below.
Can you make this gluten free?
Yes! Sub the flour for 2 tablespoons organic cornstarch or 1/4 of your favorite gluten free flour mix. Sub the sausages for thawed extra firm frozen tofu with the water pressed out (this was my second favorite “meat” while experimenting.) Slice tofu into 1/2 inch thick triangles. Add an extra 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seed to the stew for sausage-y flavor.
Can you use a different dried mushroom?
Yes! Shiitake or portobello will work. But chop them up a little finer before adding.
Can you use seitan instead of sausages?
Yes! Use 2 cups of sliced seitan but saute it first, then remove it from the pot and add later, otherwise it will be rubbery.
Can you make this in a slow cooker?
I haven’t tried it. Why don’t you give it a shot and let us know?
Ok, now let’s stew!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, quartered and thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium carrot, peeled, sliced on a bias, 1/2 inch thick
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel or crushed fennel seeds
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 pounds potatoes (any type), lazily peeled, cut in 1 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 vegan sausages, sliced into chunky half mooons
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium high heat.
Saute onions and a pinch of salt in oil until until translucent, 4 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, for about a minute, until fragrant.
Add carrots, wine, rosemary (crushed in your fingers), thyme (crushed in your fingers), paprika, fennel, fresh black pepper and salt and bring to a boil. The liquid should reduce in about 3 minutes.
Add porcinis and vegetable broth, cover and bring to a full boil for 5 minutes or so, to quickly cook the procinis. Now add the potatoes, lower heat and bring to a simmer (not a full boil). Let the potatoes cook just until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
In a measuring cup, mix the flour into the water with a fork until no lumps are left. Slowly add the broth/flour to the pot, mixing well. Mix in the tomato paste. Let thicken for 5 minutes or so. Add the sausages and continue to cook. In about 5 more minutes it should be perfectly thick but still smooth. Taste for salt and seasonings, and serve! Sprinkle individual servings with fresh parsley if you want to be 70s food chic.
I am going to try this! I was just thinking of how to do a stew the way my mother used to do it –but minus the meat. I was not sure …so googled and Everything that you said about the tofu–sauce etc is what I had thought…I really believe this recepe will work..I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for doing all the work.
I’ve NEVER made a stew THIS good! OMG! I’m getting GREAT at cooking thanks to recipes like this! THANKS! <3
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Ashley in Louisiana
Yummmmmm. Made this last night, but out of Isa Does It. Searched for it here so I could report a successful attempt! It was delicious. Tonight was Mushroom Stroganoff. Aaahh. I don’t think I could follow a plant based diet without Isa! But with all these recipes, we eat so well and are always excited to try another new recipe. Thank you, thank you.
Oh my goodness. This stew was freaking amazing. It was so good it only lasted my family of 2.5 (one-year-old baby is the 0.5) one night. I served it garlic bread and a glass of red wine. We all went back for seconds. We used the chickpea seitan recipe from Isa Does It for the sausages and they totally made the dish. Our local grocery store doesn`t sell porcini mushrooms so we used shitake. I`m making this again next week!
Thanks once again. I really can’t thank you enough, haha. Every recipe I have made from you is amazing and this is no exception. I didn’t use seitan (LOVE it though, it was just me being lazy and not wanting to make any) but I used Gardein beefless tips covered in flour and then sauteed. I also added some Shula’s steak sauce which is great by the way and some vegan Worcestershire sauce. It’s totally smooth and velvety like you said, and the perfect dinner for a cold night after a hard day’s work (made it with my love in mind.) Thank you times a million!!! You have made a huge impact on us and I feel like I’m a better cook now. 🙂
It’s really nice! I have done it many times. In the questions you suggest to use cornstach to make it gluten free. Well! The sausage in this recipe call for gluten!!! This could not be glutten free…
the only changes I made were, I added chopped celery & peas…
I steamed the sausage in fresh corn husks instead of tin foil….
I used fresh shiitake mushrooms instead of dried porcini (couldn’t find any nearby)…
and I think thats about it. I’ll definitely be making this stew & these sausages from now on.
<3 #horror #metal
it’s far too hot here for stew but after stumbling across this recipe i couldn’t wait to try it. it is amazing! thanks for all the work you put into developing your divine recipes. best stew i have had in a long time if not ever, and i am irish and have eaten a lot stews in my lifetime 😉
looks wonderful – however I don’t use all purpose flour – do you think chickpea flour would work?
I’m late to the party, but I just had to say I doubled this recipe for dinner tonight (and it ain’t cold in San Antonio in October!), and it is AMAZING. Unfortunately, I didn’t have mushrooms, as my hubby NEGLECTED to get them (even though they were on the list I sent with him to the store to get everything for this! But I’m not bitter!), so I put in a bag of frozen peas. I also used Tofurky Italian sausages, because… well, I had ’em.
I guess the lesson learned from my alterations and the many others that I’ve seen in the comments is that this recipe is super delish and easy, and can be adapted to a variety of needs, tastes, and resources. Isa, you are the BOMB!
I just made this, and it was really delicious. Modifications I made (in case you, like me, didn’t have everything on hand) – regular white mushrooms instead of porcini, seitan strips instead of homemade sausages, ketchup instead of tomato paste. I also added a cup of green beans and took out a few oz. of potatoes. I had to cook the stew much longer than the specified time to get the potatoes and carrots to be sufficiently soft, but that wasn’t a big deal. I probably simmered the whole thing for an additional 30 minutes. I would highly recommend this stew to anyone looking for a classic version of a beef stew, veganized.
Just made this, and it’s FANTASTIC!!! Thank you so much!
Yum!!! I made this in my pressure cooker today using dried wild mushrooms, and subbing in a tbsp of balsamic with water for the wine (no alcohol in my house), and also used soy curls instead of sausage or seitan, and I really really love it. I didn’t need the flour at the end (probably b/c of the soy curls), and I’m so happy right now eating it. The fennel is sooooo nice in the stew, too! I totally splurged and am having a slice of bread with Earth Balance because it feels so homey to me that I just want what I use to have with stew as a kid!
This is f*cking amazing. I put in a ton of pepper and used baby portobellos. Perfect thing for a cold winter night.
Made this for lunch today and it was really, really good. Both my children loved it (I left out most of the salt for the littlest one and used balsamic vinegar + water instead of the wine). Also, I used a dried mushroom mix instead of just porcinis, and added a splash of soy sauce to the adults’ portions (soy sauce makes everything better, well, except for desserts maybe 😉 ). Yummy and totally comforting!
This recipe is amazing. Although…I have been totally confused about dried mushroom. The package makes it very clear to rehydrate them. But I can just add them to the stew and cooking them rehydrates….. Right?
Is the vegetable broth the kind with tomato in it or the No-chicken vegetable broth? What brand broth did you use?
I’m not much of a commenter, and there are already 191 comments, but I need to add my voice to the chorus of praise for this recipe. I have made it several times now, and It’s as good as it sounds. The gravy is silky and rich, the sausages provide a contrasting texture, and the porcini enrich the flavor and color. Thanks for a great one.
Omg thank you thank you! When I got the call this morning that the office was closed due to snow, I knew it was the day to finally try to make a vegetarian beef stew. I found this recipe and knew it was exactly what I was looking for!! Here’s how I tweaked it: I used store bought broth, but amped it up by boiling it with a mixed dry mudroom blend, some marsala and some tamari. I strained the mushrooms, chopped them finely and added them with the porcini. I also added fresh sliced shiitake with the potatoes, which added some delightful, silky texture. I threw in some frozen peas halfway through the potatoes cooking, mainly for color. The stew was everything I dreamed and more. Serious deliciousness.
This stew is so lovely and tasty. I used nutritional yeast instead of flour and the sauce thickened up nicely and had a pleasant tang. I also used sweet potatoes instead of regular. It was delicious and my boyfriend agreed. Thank you!
This was unbelievably good! In my household we have one omnivore adult, one 60-70% plant-based adult, one vegan adult and two “I eat whatever mama makes” kids. Every single person in the house raved about this stew. Truly, I had no idea a vegan stew could be so rich, so velvety, so deeply flavored (in a way that is familiar to my American palate). This is an absolute winner.
I am afraid could be dangerous to make it in a slow cooker. Because the porcini mushrooms must be cooked adequately so you don’t get sick from them. I am afraid if your slow cooker doesn’t get hot enough you could get very ill. I’m sorry I don’t know the required temperature and I’m bad. I don’t know what to do.
I’m sorry. I am bad and fail to keep people safe.
I don’t want you or anyone to get sick or die due to me. Please please please be safe.
I’m sorry there may be many other dangers in the recipe. I don’t know. I’m bad. I’m bad. Please keep safe!
I think you are a bit over reacting, aren’t you??
Attention! You must make this. It is amazing!!!! I’ve made it multiple times, slightly different each time based on what I have available, and it’s always amazing!
This is one of my top five favorite meals of all time. When I feel sick, tired, and/or cranky, I crave this stew. Now that I think about it, I crave it when I am alert, happy, and feeling healthy. My husband substitutes the stein or sausage with Gardein beef tips (he puts it in a few minutes before turning the stove off). I can’t thank you enough for creating this recipe!!I could eat pots of it.
I made this last night, to celebrate a chilly and rainy start to the Labor Day weekend and it was SO good! I’d browsed past it a few times in my Isa Does It! cookbook, and I am glad I stopped on the page yesterday and decided to go for it. I used Field Roast sausages, but next time, I’ll try making the vegan sausage in the book, which looks even yummier than the Field Roast stuff.
It’s smelling so good in Cambridge, MA tonight. Spot on with the dried porcini mushrooms!
So, I just tried this recipe and it was amazing! When I served it my carbivore husband exclaimed “that looks like the little meats and gravy” we used to have as kids! He took one bite and continued to say “I feel like the food critic in ratatouille, I just took one bite and was transported back to my childhood.” He licked the bowl clean!
Hello, I made this the other night and it was VERY TASTY!! Your recipes are certainly at the top of my plant based recipes. I also bought an Instant Pot and I am trying to convert as many of your recipes to Instant Pot as possible. Keep up the good work!!
I made this recipe last night and it was delicious! I couldn’t find porcini mushrooms (out of stock at my store), so I replaced them with shiitake. Next time I make this, I will leave them out all together, as I didn’t like the texture. I used BTB beef style stock, which really made this taste amazing. I was worried that the carrots would be undercooked, but they had the perfect bite to them. Thanks!
This is in my crock pot right now, made the sausages this morning which are awesome! Can’t wait for dinner!
Thanks for sharing it!
I’ve made this many times and love it. Can you give me any nutritional (calories( info about it?
I don’t recall how I stumbled upon this recipe, but I’m sure glad I did! It’s awesome! I added extra veggies. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers at the office tomorrow! Thank you for all your effort to find the right chemistry. IT WORKS!! 🙂
I’ve had this cookbook for years and am just trying this recipe. I now want to kick myself for having missed all these years of deliciousness. You did attain the DAAAYYYYUM level.