Not-boring vegetable stew.

So. Now that we've got that whole crazy year out of the way, I have a confession to make: I'm boring. Perhaps not the most promising discovery to come to at the start of a new year, unless I'm the type to make resolutions that involve becoming more not-boring, but. Eh.

Now, here's a secret: I'm kind of OK with it. My NYE spent in playing board games with close friends was one of the most enjoyable I've had in years. My journal does not consist of Dear-Diary moments with episodes of sex, drama and alcohol, but rather lists of what I ate that day and corresponding calorie counts, with a grocery list and weekly menu plan thrown in for good measure. My today's exciting events include getting a new TV stand, adding bacon to my soup, and enjoying our new ottoman as I sit on the couch and watch movies. My lunch has been the same vegetable stew for the past three days straight, and I plan on eating the same again tomorrow.

Bo-oring. And yet, I'm satisfied. Content. Happy.

hearty vegetable stew

Here's a story: The other day, I asked Murdo to buy some grapefruit for me if he noticed they were on sale. He came home with 18 pounds of grapefruit. I realize this story is neither interesting nor relevant, but I find it somewhat amusing, and that's all I've got right now. Besides this vegetable stew.

Actually, I think this vegetable stew may spark your interest, as we're all getting over our butter overdoses from the holidays and the webosphere is crawling with healthy recipes, low-calorie recipes, comfort foods that won't make you fatter. It's hearty, with only 180 calories per serving, two types of meaty mushrooms, and a traditional base of onions, carrots and potatoes that will make you simultaneously think of beef stew whilst forgetting that beef stew is supposed to include beef. Sounds pretty not-boring to me! I'll take it.

I hope you'll take it, too, and won't take the lack of exciting news around these parts as a layout for the 2011 to come. I mean, I admit that I'm boring and all, but not all the time (I hope). I'll find something interesting to write about soon enough, and when I do, I'll shout it from the rooftops while flinging delicious food in your general direction. Just stick around and you'll see.

hearty vegetable stew

Hearty Vegetable Stew (from The Best Light Recipe by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated)
According to the CI editors, this stew does not get better over time, unlike traditional beef stews. However, I made this on a Sunday afternoon and, rather than eat it immediately, packed it up for my week's lunches. I think the stew held up rather nicely all week.

2 medium onions, diced
1 medium celery rib, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
4 large carrots (about 1 lb), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon olive oil
9 medium portobello mushrooms (about 1 1/4 lbs), stems discarded, gills removed, caps halved and sliced 1/2-inch thick
10 ounces white mushrooms, halved with stems removed
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, or 1 teaspoon fresh
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
4 medium red potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
ground black pepper, to taste

Add onions, carrot, celery, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and cover. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and increase heat to medium high. Cook until all the liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook until wine is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

Add the broth, water, tomatoes with their juices, bay leaves, and potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Partially cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer until the stew has thickened and is flavorful, about 1 hour. Add water if the stew is too thick.

Take pot of heat and stir in the peas. Cover and let stand until peas are warmed through, about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar, discard bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 8 (I halved this recipe)
Serving: 1 1/2 cups
Calories per serving: 180


  1. I'd be thrilled with 18 lbs of grapefruit! Haha, I love it and I'd be just as thrilled with this stew. Looks beautiful!

  2. UM, BACON in your soup? Hello, amazing idea! I want to hear more about the BACON!

    Also, I too am boring. And I'm totally ok with that.

  3. At least cooking is a hobby everyone can appreciate. I get excited over the fiber content of yarn. Thanks for the soup recipe, I've been looking for a soup to make this week and this'll be it. Mmm balsamic vinegar and white wine? This should be interesting!

  4. Sounds yummy! I think all soups get better with time . . . more flavor melding.

  5. kickpleat - I was shocked when I saw that bag of citrus on the kitchen counter! Haha but it's all good, I think I'll make a grapefruit salad today. :) Thanks for your sweet comment!

    Kim - Ha! I added bacon to the loaded potato soup we had for dinner. Adding bacon to anything makes life just better in general.

    J - Yup, yarn is more boring than food. You win! Oh just kidding. Try the soup! Terry will appreciate all the mushrooms. :)

    Les - So true. The flavor was better by the fourth day I ate it. I am obsessed with soups lately!

  6. 18 pounds of grapefruit is quite a considerable amount! What are you going to do with all of it?

    The soup sounds great, certainly not boring. The addition of balsamic vinegar must add just a hint of zingy excitement against all of the rounded flavor of the vegetables. I made a tortellini soup that used a little red wine vinegar in the same fashion. It really does help to make a non-boring soup!

  7. Dana - I know! This weekend I've making salads with grapefruit and avocado, which is delicious. I've also just been eating them plain -- peeled and segmented -- as a snack. I'm thinking about making grapefruit juice, too. :) I love tortellini soup! I've made a version with butternut squash and spinach, and it's oh-so-good. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I think that being interesting is overrated. Honestly, sometimes the dark side of "interesting" means there's a lot of associated stress and drama! As long as you're happy (and have enough grapefruit on hand), I'd say you're in the perfect place to ring in 2011. :)

  9. Maddie - You're so right! There is definitely no drama in my life, which is just the way I like it. And yes, grapefruit helps. :)


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