Vegetarians rejoice! A hearty beef stew is no longer off limits to you with this Vegetarian Beefless Stew! By substituting the beef with chunky, sauteed portabella mushrooms, the recipe maintains its meatiness and texture. Together, with root vegetables, fresh herbs, and a thick, gravy-like broth, the beef will not be missed at all in this vegetarian version of a home-style classic dish!
Mushrooms are complicated. Not in terms of cooking or taste, but in terms of what each variety is called and how to spell each one! I spell the particular mushroom in this dish as follows: portabella. But, I pronounce it like this: portobello. According to Food.com, the Mushroom Council, yes, the Mushroom Council – I googled it too! – has declared that the spelling of the popular variety should be spelled with two As; so, I guess I have the spelling correct at least. Maybe I’ll have to work on the pronunciation.
Did you also know that portabellas are cremini mushrooms that have been allowed to remain unharvested for an additional five to seven days? Who knew!? Evidently the usage of the two words – portobello or portabella – is simply an issue of a marketing brand.
Whatever you want to call them is up to you. Just be sure to use them! Portabella mushrooms are a great beef substitute. They are dense and hearty; and they hold up very well to longer cooking methods, such as stews or soups. In my Vegetarian Beefless Stew, I selected portabella mushrooms for that reason. Sauteing them in a little oil with onions and garlic simply infused the mushrooms with flavour while texturing the vegetable to resemble a chunky cut of beef.
Vegetarian Beefless Stew is a rustic, simple dish that has been adapted from a traditional family favourite. As you know, Dear Reader, a stew is basically a combination of vegetables and a tougher cut of meat that has been simmered in a liquid for a longer period of time. Ingredients such as carrots, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and peas, which tend to hold their shape and texture, are often common in stews.
In terms of liquid, a good stock is preferred. I tend to use vegetable stock in all of my soups and stews. Even though vegetable stock is already season if you buy the store-bought variety, the addition of fresh herbs is also favoured in stews. In this particular recipe, you can add dried herbs if you choose to do so, but the fresh rosemary is key – it adds so much depth to the flavour profile.
Since a stew is suitable for the least tender cuts of meat that become tender with slow cooking, the portabella mushroom is the best choice for a vegetarian version. The portabella mushroom will hold up well and take on a meaty texture. In most meat-based versions, the meat is usually lightly coated with flour and then seared. The flour helps to thicken the broth. In my vegetarian version, once the vegetables are fully cooked, I scoop out two cups of the stew and use my hand-held immersion blender to emulsify it before returning the mixture to the pot. This will thicken the stew nicely without the need for flour or cornstarch.
Once all is said and done, you’re going to be left with a hearty, deliciously tasty, vegetarian stew that will rival the best beef-based stew you’ve ever had! Now, I’ve said all I need to say, I’ve written up the recipe, and I’ve taken a few photographs for you. It’s time for me to dig in! #meatless
Vegetarian Beefless Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
- 4 large portabella mushrooms, stem and gills* removed, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups water
- 3-4 large white flesh potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 cups frozen green peas
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Add the onions and olive oil to a large soup/stock pot over medium heat. Saute the onions for 2-3 minutes until they become soft.
- Add the chopped carrots, celery, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Continue to saute until the mushroom release their moisture and become brown. About 10 minutes will do the trick.
- Add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
- Next, add the water, potatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, paprika, and rosemary. Stir to combine.
- Cover the pot with lid and allow to cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the frozen peas. Stir into the soup and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
- Check to see that the potatoes and carrots are fork tender. If not, allow five more minutes of cooking time. If they are tender, move on to the next step.
- Scoop out two cups of the stew - try to get an even amount of vegetables and broth. Puree in a blender until completely smooth. Return the puree to the pot and stir into the stew.
- Add the chopped parsley. Stir and turn off the heat. Place the lid back on the pot and allow the stew to sit for five minutes.
- Stir again and serve immediately.
Using the backside of a spoon, gently scrap the underside of the mushroom to remove the dark brown gills. You can leave them on the mushroom if you prefer, but doing so will change the colour of the soup. Gills tend to leave a murky, brown colour.