Recipe: warming Winter stew
Feeding your mind and heart in winter - from Sharpham cook Janet
It is the time of the year to nourish ourselves with thick and warming winter stews. Cooked slowly in the oven, over a fire, or in a heavy based pan on the stove, they are easy to make, putting everything in and leaving to gently cook so the sweetness and richness can develop.
There is no set recipe, just the idea to feed ourselves with the simplicity of a one-pot dish that emanates a heavenly, warming scent and is food for the soul on dark, wintry days.
This is the time of the year to stock up your kitchen with jars of dried produce, beans, delicacies that can weave their way into the pot to make each stew a little different and give flavourful and textural interest. Foods I love to have are various beans (dried or tinned), dried porcini mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, tinned organic tomatoes, good spices and herbs. I like condiments like harissa and tamari and nourishing grains such as barley, buckwheat and spelt. A little bit of wine or dark beer also brings richness to a hearty stew.
The options are endless so let this winter be a time of feeding the winter mind with delicious heart-warming pots of nourishment.
This recipe is just an example for the many variations that you can create with the winter vegetables, store cupboard provisions, and other deliciousness that you can add.
For 4 people.
- 1 onion
- 1 leek
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 squash
- 2 potatoes
- 2 carrots
- Kale or winter spinach
- Herbs (I have used bay leaf, chopped rosemary and sage)
- Tinned organic tomato
- Tinned beans (here I used British fava beans)
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Olives - a handful
- 2 large Portobello mushrooms
- Sprinkle of British seaweed, salt and pepper
- Splash of tamari
How to make this dish
If you are going to make this in the oven use a casserole dish with a lid, or a heavy pot on the cooker.
Prepare the vegetables, cutting them into chunks, onions and leeks sliced, garlic crushed or sliced. The herbs, if you have them, chopped or put in a sprinkle of dried. Put all into the pot.
Thinly slice the sun-dried tomatoes and add a few olives to the pot. Drain and rinse the beans: add those with a spoon of harissa or chilli paste.
Add the tin of tomatoes, the mushrooms with extra water so that all the vegetables are covered. Finish with seasoning.
Keep the spinach or kale to the side, washing it and roughly chopping so it can be added at the end.
If putting in the oven start at medium heat for 10-15 minutes till bubbling, then turn down a little and leave to gently cook on 150oC or gas mark 3 until all is cooked and you have a delicious rich broth.
On the stove bring it to a boil, then turn down low and let it simmer away. Once all is cooked, taste for seasoning then add the spinach or kale and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add any fresh herbs at the end.
You can also start by gently frying the onions, garlic and leeks, sweating the other veg then adding the tomato and water after and cooking it that way.
Enjoy this stew on its own, or with some fresh crusty bread or a cooked grain.
Let the preparation be a pleasurable time, be truly in the slowness and attentiveness of a winter mind.