Vegetable Stew

I recently made a batch of this stew that was so good, I just had to jot it down and share.

Harel's (Vegan Low-fat) Vegetable Stew
Variation # 274.

Like (most) recipes, this one is meant to be played and experimented with for variation, modification, expansion/enhancement, etc.

6 Med potatoes, peeled, chopped medium 1/2 large green pepper, chopped medium
10 med carrots, peeled, chopped coarse 2-5 broccoli stalks, peeled, chopped
6 celery stalks, chopped medium flat parsley leaves, chopped
1 leek, chopped in thin slices 1 cup lentils
Misc spices (see below) 1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 can crushed tomatoes (no salt added, e.g. Cento brand)

(1) Start by boiling the water. More precisely, for my last batch, I used: My large stock pot. I'll have to check but I think it's close to 2 gallons in capacity, or maybe 3. About half of the liquid I ended up using was not plain water but the water in which I had boiled corn on the cob. This gives an extra flavor and aroma. This is not a new trick, and there are variations (e.g. cooking rice in the water/broth in which peas had earlier been cooked, is another combination I like).

(2) Get busy peeling and chopping. You can of course modify the kind of slice-size/style you use. By the time the potatoes, carrots, celery, leek, broccoli, and pepper have been added, the water should be near boiling. You might want to add the broccoli earlier on to soften it, although I added it near the end and didn't have any problem.

(3) Now add some nice color -- not to mention wonderful aroma and taste -- by spooning and mixing in (roughly) half the (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes. Tomato puree will work, too, but one gets nice mini chunks and tomato seeds with crushed tomatoes; if that is not your cup of tea (so to speak), feel free to use puree instead.

(4) Now is also the time to add the parsley and another "secret ingredient" -- quick-cooking oats.

I almost stumbled across this ingenious idea by accident -- ingenious because it allows you to create a "thick/creamy soup" consistency which is (nearly) fat-free! Oh, and by the way, as if that wasn't enough, you also get good nutrition and fiber, as well, with this added ingredient. And quick-cooking oats also happen to be very cheap, to boot. A near-"perfect" gift from Nature, in short.

(5) Seasonings are far too much fun to play with to nail down. I used an even more generous than usual (for me) amount of garlic powder, since I was out of fresh garlic, which I would otherwise have added a few cloves of. Among spices/herbs to try -- oregano, celery powder, dill, good paprika,.... even a modest amount of powdered cloves.

(6) Keep it all simmered until your nose (or stomach!) tell you it's ready.

Last and most important step:

(7) Dig in!

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PS -- I was eating nearly fat-free when I typed this recipe in. Nowdays, I'd add olive oil. Good for you, and going too close to fat-free might lowre your HDL or increase your tryglicerides.

Moderately low-fat and including good oils (olive for cooking; flax-seed oil for cold/warm dishes like salad dressings or even in your cereal for a nutty taste) is good (-: