sweet and savoury stew

sweet and savoury vegetable stew with grilled bread

hot bowl of vegetable stew

stew might not be exactly the right word to describe this, because it doesn’t actually “stew” that long. in fact the preparation takes more time than the cooking–there are lots of delicious vegetables here that bring the sweet and the savoury to this…stew. but it’s warm, rich, deep in flavour and body the way a stew is, so if it looks like a stew and it tastes like a stew, then i say even if it cooks in 20 minutes, it’s a stew.

lots of ingredients invited to the party thin slices of fennel








mise en place stewing...

and i suppose the prep could take closer to 20 minutes if you drag someone into the kitchen with you, like i did. pour yourselves a glass of wine and chat while you chop. it’s one of those meals. not, i confess, not, a meal that makes it onto the weeknight plan i discussed in a recent post. it’s a sunday night supper to be spooned slowly onto bites of bread made fitting for such a satisfying stew…

grilled bread

sweet and savoury vegetable stew with grilled bread

take the time to grill your bread–you will be so glad you took the extra few minutes to do it. grilled bread sprinkled with maldon salt elevates it from something you might or might not care for with your stew, to something that you will absolutely relish. it adds a texture and saltiness that totally rounds this meal out perfectly. happy slurping–and crunching too.

sweet and savoury vegetable stew with grilled bread

½ oz. (14 g) dried porcini mushrooms rinsed in cold water
7 sprigs flat leaf parsley
7 sprigs fresh tarragon
2 tbs oil
1 small fennel bulb, stem trimmed but intact, small, tough core removed, cut into 8 pieces lengthwise
3 large shallots, peeled, stem trimmed but intact, quartered lengthwise
2 leeks, washed and dried well, sliced lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1 inch ribbons
3 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
¼ tsp kosher salt + 1 tsp*
1/3 c. marsala wine
1L vegetable broth (low-sodium if available)
2 large or 4 small potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large carrots peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
2 fresh bay leaves (or dry)
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 lb crimini mushrooms, large mushrooms quartered, smaller ones halved
4 packed cups kale, torn into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp corn starch or tapioca starch
juice of half a lemon (about 1 tbs)
1 tbs tamari or soy sauce
¼ cup water
zest of one lemon, finely zested or chopped

soak porcinis in 1 cup of boiling water for 20 minutes.

meanwhile, pluck the leaves from 2 sprigs each of parsley and tarragon, discard stalks. chop leaves finely and set aside. tie remaining sprigs together in a bundle using one of the stalks or food-safe string. set aside.

in a large, wide-bottomed pot, heat oil over high until hot. add fennel pieces and shallots, stir occasionally and allow them to start to caramelize. once they begin to turn golden in spots (about 5 minutes), add the leeks and garlic, mix well. lower heat slightly, add 1/4 tsp salt and cook for 2 more minutes.

remove and reserve porcini pieces from water, squeezing the liquid from them. add porcini liquid, marsala wine and broth to the pot. add potatoes, carrots, the herb bundle, thyme, marjoram, bay leaves (tear slightly if using fresh bay leaves), and remaining salt and pepper to the pot. (*note: if not using low-sodium broth, add only 1/2 tsp salt at this time, and more toward the end if necessary.) bring to a gentle boil
and cook for 5 minutes. add crimini mushrooms, porcini mushrooms and kale. stir and bring back to a boil. simmer for 10 minutes.

meanwhile, add corn starch to a bowl. pour in lemon juice, tamari, water and mix well.

carefully remove the herb bundle and bay leaves from the pot. add the cornstarch mixture. mix well and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. taste and adjust salt if necessary. turn off heat and cover while grilling bread.

for grilled bread:

4 slices of good bread
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
maldon salt

heat a grill pan over high heat. brush both sides of each slice of bread with oil. grill bread, weighing it down with a heavy plate, until grill marks form (about 1-2 minutes), turn slices over and repeat. sprinkle slices with maldon salt, crushing salt between your fingers as you sprinkle.

serve soup into bowls. sprinkle w/ chopped herbs and lemon zest. serve hot w/ a slice of grilled bread.

serves 4.