I couldn’t get through my #SoupSeries without including a meat-based soup. And while this isn’t a soup, I still think that this qualifies to be in the series since: 1) it’s warming, 2) contains rich broth and veggies and 3) makes you feel all cozy inside. So here it is, my recipe for Beef Stew with Dumplings.
While soups and stews can contain both meat and veggies, they are a bit different. The main difference between a soup and a stew is consistency. Obviously a stew is thicker (i.e. not as watery) because it uses less stock or water in the recipe. Also, while others may not 100% agree with me on this, the size of the chunks of meat and veggies are much larger in a stew than a soup. I love biting into a big, tender piece of meat or carrot. It just makes it seem much more hearty, rich and filling!
To make a great beef stew you need to build lots of flavour at the beginning when you are cooking the meat and the veggies. Always cook the meat first in the stockpot that you are going to use so that the flavour stays right where it needs to be- in the pot! I sear my chucks of beef over high heat and I make sure to not overcrowd the pot. If you do this, it will cause the meat to steam, which isn’t as flavourful as searing. I sear the meat on all sides and work in batches to avoid overcrowding, then I place it on a plate to rest while the veggies go in.
I like to add the famous combination of veggies to my stew, mirpoix, which consists of carrots, onion and celery. So many wonderful soups and stews start out with this simple yet tasty mixture. I add the veggies to the pot along with some salt and pepper to get all the water out of the veggies and into the bottom of the pot. Once those veggies release their water, they easily pick up all those dark, crispy, beefy bits on the bottom of the pot- thereby adding more flavour to the soup!
Mirpoix speckled with brown beefy bits <3
After the veggies are cooked, I also add in some deep tomato paste and a heaping spoonful of Herbes de Provence (a classic dry French herb mixture of rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram and savory that you could make on your own if you don’t already have the mix), cubed potatoes, some bay leaves and then all the tasty beef broth. Finally, I add in the beef chunks that I seared earlier along with all those yummy juices left on the plate! Mmmm….beef juice 😛
The beef chucks may seem tough now, but after simmering on low heat for 2 hours, I guarantee that they will fall apart so easily when the stew is done! But…just before the stew is done, we have to make the dumplings!
The dumplings could not be any easier- simply mix flour, baking powder, salt, more of those Herbes de Provence, milk and butter until combined. Then drop heaping spoonfuls of it into the simmering stew and let them cook of 15 minutes, turning halfway throughout the cooking process. And there you have it- super impressive and filling dumplings in less than 15 minutes!
To lighten up the stew a little bit, I love to add a bit of frozen peas and chopped parsley near the end of the cooking, just to wake up the stew and give it a bit of fresh flavour!
This stew is perfect for the cool weather ahead! Let me know in the comments below if you will be making it!