Healthy comfort food for the colder days, this Vegetable Stew with Dumplings ticks all the boxes. It tastes like really good boeuf bourguignon, but without the meat. Fried mushrooms providing meaty umami flavour, butter beans add protein while the butternut squash acts as carb and veggie at once, leaving you warm and satisfied. Cheesy herb dumplings crown this hearty stew and soak up the rich red wine sauce.
Why You Want This
There is so much to love about this stew, so let’s start with the core flavour here.
The star of the show here are the mushrooms, which take on the role meat usually does, of providing meaty flavour and lots of umami. I keep hearing people hate the texture of mushrooms, perceiving them as “slimy”. Testing with friends who claimed just that, I found the trick is to fry the mushrooms until nicely browned, which releases some of their water and leaves you with a meatier texture with tons of roasting aroma, which will give this Vegetable Stew its rich feel.
I’m using 2 parts brown chestnut mushrooms and 1 pack Shiitake. But if you find forest mushrooms, feel free to add those, as they add incredible flavour.
As added flavour component for more umami, I’m also using porcini mushrooms that I soak in hot water, using then both the liquid and the finely chopped mushrooms to the stew.
Leaving out the meat means, I want to add another form of protein and what is better in stews than beans? I love the big soft butter beans, but you could use any legume you like here. Cannellini beans are a fabulous replacement, or kidney or black beans. Lentils and chickpeas would be lovely, though I always feel they stay a bit too firm for my taste.
While you could easily use carrots and potatoes here, I feel the fall season really calls for squash. I lends some sweetness to balance all the hearty flavours above and melts in your mouth, while leaving you satisfied with fibre and carbs.
If you read some of my recipes and my “about” section, you probably know that one of my “secrets” to weight loss is, to add as many vegetables as possible to my recipes, to add bulk and flavour to my meals with very low caloric density. I’m doing the same here. Sneaking in greens in form of spinach is a fantastic way to get your greens without even noticing, as it just melts into the stew with a very neutral flavour.
While you could make this with just broth, the red wine gives this Vegetable Stew an incredible richness you usually just find in good meat stews. It is reduced and will soak up all the fantastic roasting aromas we get from frying the veggies first.
For the type of red wine, you could use the originally recommended Burgundy Julia Child uses. Personally I love new world wines, as I feel the flavour to price ratio is more favourable in them. So I used Chilean Diablo Vulcanic Cabernet Sauvignon from Tesco, which did a fabulous job enriching this stew. https://www.tesco.ie/groceries/en-IE/products/311943825
I’m using ready made vegetable broth here, to keep this suitable for vegetarians. You could easily use beef broth here if you want even more meaty flavour without meat chunks.
The fancy word stands for the classic mix of celery, carrots, and onions, which makes the base of pretty much every good stew or soup out there. Being fried gently until soft and then taken a little further to let it caramelize, adds the brown bits on the bottom of the pot, to give you depth of flavour for your sauce.
Rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and parsley are my choices here, as they add depth and herby richness to anything they touch. I’m using fresh, as I adore the intensity they bring, but you could use dried in a pinch.
Tomato paste and plain flour to thicken the sauce and give it incredible richness. Don’t skip these, or you’ll have watery stew.
A can of chopped tomatoes adds more depth and colour to the sauce, but don’t worry, this will not make it into tomato sauce.
The “Secret” Ingredients
You know these fancy restaurant stews you taste and wonder what on earth they did, to get this super rich and deep, layered flavour? Me too.
I found, that adding a mix of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and maple syrup gives me just that. Just a hint of sweetness, to balance the acidity of the canned tomatoes and tomato paste with the maple syrup, layers of sweetness and acidity from the balsamic, while underlining the notes from the red wine. Rich umami notes from the soy sauce, which sounds counter intuitive in a fairly French inspired stew but trust me here and try it. I promise you won’t look back.
Cheesy Herb Dumplings
Dumplings on a stew basically scream comfort food and these Cheesy Herb Dumplings are no exception. They are super quick to make with very few ingredients you probably have at home and just cook for about 30 minutes with the stew. Cheese and herbs give lots of flavour, which, in my mind, makes them a better option than just bread to soak up the lovely juices.
I’m using lard I had left from my Slow Roasted Cuban Pork Shoulder, which gave them extra flavour. You can use suet, vegan suet or butter for them.
Cheese wise I specify mature cheddar in the recipe, even though I used aged Gouda (Old Amsterdam), as it’s easier to find. Both a good options. Or any grated aged cheese you have and want to use up.
Self raising flour can be replaced by plain white flour with 1/4 tsp baking powder.
Gremolata is typically a dressing or garnish made with chopped parsley, garlic, and grated lemon zest, served as an accompaniment to meat or fish. And while we have neither here, I’m using it to dollop over the stew in the end, to give it a component of zingy freshness I really enjoy. Non-traditional toasted pine nuts also give a bit of crunch and a gentle, lingering nutty taste that will stay with you long after the last bite.
The Gremolata is optional, but only takes minutes to make in a food processor and will lift the stew from really good comfort food to something more, by adding fresh lemony-herb and nut notes to each comforting bite.
You can alter this Vegetable Stew in a million ways by adding whatever veggies you have on hand. You may go the Julia Child way of adding small pearl onions, add carrots instead of squash, add potatoes instead of the dumplings as carb source or simply additional.
The beans can be replaced with whatever legume you have on hand.
For the greens, you could also use kale and even green or red finely sliced cabbage.
You can make this with just broth instead of red wine if cooking for kids or alter the intensity of the red wine flavour by changing the ratios.
Or: Why does this taste so similar to Boef Bourguignon?
I’m basically using many of the tricks Julia Child was using in her fantastic original recipe from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.
Except, of course, the meat. Which means we need to extract as much flavour as we can from vegetable sources.
First dried porcini mushrooms are soaked in hot water, giving us even more meaty umami flavour to add to the stock later.
Roast the Squash
Pre-heat your oven to 400°F/200°C
Instead of just cooking the squash, which would leave it slightly watery, I pre-roast it, to cook out some of its water and caramelize the edges. It gets added to the pot just before the dumplings, to not dissolve.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, mix your bite sized pumpkin cubes with 2 tbsp olive oil, some salt, pepper, and 1 tsp of your chopped herbs. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until caramelised at the edges. Stir once or twice if your oven heats unevenly.
Heat large cast iron pot slowly to medium-high temperature. Add some olive oil.
I’m frying the mirepoix first here, as the garlic and onion flavour it leaves at the bottom of the pot will soak into the mushrooms. Then take it out, so it doesn’t burn when frying the mushrooms.
Add chopped carrot, celery, and onion. Fry until onion and veggies have taken on some colour in spots, but onion isn’t burned. Add garlic, fry for another minute or so until you see browned bits forming at the bottom of your pot.
Transfer the mirepoix to a plate while you fry the mushrooms.
Fry mushrooms (In about 3 batches, so they fry instead of cooking in their own juices.) until nicely browned and crispy in spots. Take your time with this, don’t stir too often. Transfer to a bowl or plate and set aside while you fry the remaining batches.
Add mirepoix and all your mushrooms back to the pot.
Add tomato paste and stir, turning up the heat a little, so it starts to catch at the bottom. Dust over flour and continue stirring, until it’s well distributed. Cook, stirring frequently for about 1min.
Add red wine and let it bubble up and reduce a little, while scraping all the browned bits off the bottom of your pot.
Once it’s cooked down a bit, add chopped porcini mushrooms and their soaking liquid, beans, broth, tomatoes, and your herbs, except the parsley, which will be added just before the dumplings together with the roasted squash and spinach.
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, covered with the lid slightly open, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the stew is reduced and getting thicker.
While your stew is cooking, make your dumplings.
In a bowl or your food processor (small bowl) add the flour with a good pinch of salt and pepper, the baking powder (if not using self raising), sugar, suet or butter. (Use vegan suet and cheese if you’d like to keep this vegan), Parsley and Thyme.
Switch on your food processor or mix by hand.
Mix in 3-4 tbsp cold water with your hands or a spoon, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough (add a little more water if needed).
Take the dough out of the food processor and knead in the grated cheese.
Divide into eight and roll into balls.
Season the Stew
After about 25min, open your stew pot and add the chopped parsley, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and maple syrup and give the sauce a try. Adjust the seasoning to your taste, adding salt and pepper if needed. This will depend on the stock and soy sauce you used and of course your preferences. Take out the bay leaves at this point.
Your strew should have thickened a bit by now. You can see how far mine cooked down by the marks on the pots sides. It will cook down a little further when you add the dumplings. So we still expect there to be plenty of liquid at this point. If you like yours very thick, leave to cook with an open lid for about 15min more.
Spinach and Squash
Add the raw, chopped spinach and stir into the stew. It will wilt immediately. Add the roasted squash and fold in.
Adding the Dumplings
Top your stew with the dumplings and press them down very slightly, so their top half is above the liquid.
Cover with the lid and cook for another 20-25 minutes, until they are risen, fluffy and cooked through.
For crispy and brown tops, pre-heat the broiler of your oven, take off the lid of your pot and let them brown for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, make your Gremolata (if using).
Grate the zest of your lemon and squeeze out about 2-3 tbsp of the juice. Catch any pips.
Add all ingredients to the small bowl of your food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Alternatively chop by hand and mix in small bowl.
And your Gremolata is done. You can use it not just on stew, but any type of meat or fish dish or even pasta, to elevate the flavour. You just learned how to make a magic ingredient.
If you decided to broil your dumplings for a little browning, they will be done now.
Serve your Vegetable Stew with Dumplings topped with the gremolata (optional) and maybe some good sourdough bread, for mopping up the sauce.
As usual, I prepared this Vegetable Stew with Dumplings on my weekend, to have easy and nutritious food for my workdays. It keeps for about 4-5 days in the fridge and freezes well. I left it with the dumplings for freezing, but ideally I’d say, if you plan to freeze, make them ahead, but freeze uncooked in a small bag, then add to the stew while you heat it, cooking them for about 25-30 minutes until puffed up and cooked through.
Looking for a matching cosy autumn dessert? Try my Sourdough Pumpkin Apple Muffins with Protein.
Or for a bread to mop up the delicious sauce and make this more substantial? German Sourdough Rye Beer Dutch Oven Bread would go absolutely fantastic with this stew.
Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
What other recipes would you like to see?
If you enjoyed this recipe, please share. It helps me a lot.
Vegetable Stew with Dumplings
- 2 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms soaked in hot water. Keep Fluid, filter through sieve
- 1.5 lb mushrooms ideally mixed. Cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces.
- 1 butternut squash deseeded, and chopped into bite sized pieces. No need to peel.
- 2 cans drained and rinsed butter beans
- 2 sticks Celery finely chopped
- 1 Carrot finely chopped
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- 6 cloves Garlic finely chopped
- 2 tbsp Tomato paste
- 2 tbsp Flour
- 3 cups Red wine
- 1 can of chopped Tomatoes
- 2 cups Vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp Rosemary leaves stripped from the stems and chopped
- 1 tbsp Thyme leaves stripped from the stems and chopped
- ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp Soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Maple Syrup
- 2 Bay leaves whole
- 2 tbsp fresh Parsley chopped – Plus extra for garnish
- Olive oil for frying
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 100 g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 50 g vegetarian suet or cold butter
- 100 g mature cheddar
- 1 tbsp parsley finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ tsp Sugar
- 1 cup parsley chopped
- 1 Lemon Zest and 2 tbsp of juice
- 4 cloves Garlic smashed
- 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted in a small pan without oil until golden brown and smelling divine (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preparing the Stew:
- Start by soaking the dried porcini mushrooms in hot water. Reserve the fluid and filter it through a sieve. Chop the soaked mushrooms finely.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C.
- Toss the butternut squash cubes with 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper, and 1 tsp of your chopped herbs on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes until caramelized, stirring once or twice.
- Heat a large cast iron pot over medium-high heat and add some olive oil.
- Fry the chopped carrot, celery, and onion until they take on some color without burning the onions. Add garlic and fry for another minute.
- Transfer the mirepoix to a plate.
- In batches, fry the mushrooms until nicely browned and crispy in spots. Avoid stirring too often. Set them aside.
- Add the mirepoix and all the mushrooms back to the pot.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute, allowing it to catch at the bottom. Dust with flour and continue stirring until well distributed.
- Pour in the red wine and let it reduce a little while scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.
- Add chopped porcini mushrooms and their soaking liquid, butter beans, can of chopped tomatoes, vegetable broth, herbs (except parsley), and balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and maple syrup.
- Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on, slightly open, until the stew thickens.
- While the stew is cooking, make the dumplings.
- In a bowl or your food processor, mix the flour with salt, pepper, baking powder (if not using self raising flour), sugar, suet or butter, parsley, thyme.
- Mix in 3-4 tbsp of cold water to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.
- Take your dough out of the food processor bowl if you mixed it in there and add the cheese. Kneading it into the dough.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll into balls.
- After about 25 minutes, add chopped parsley, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and maple syrup to the stew. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Take out the bay leaves.
Spinach and Squash:
- Stir in the raw chopped spinach to wilt and add the roasted squash.
- Top the stew with dumplings, pressing them down slightly so the top half is above the liquid.
- Cover with a lid and cook for another 20-25 minutes until the dumplings are risen, fluffy, and cooked through.
- To brown the tops, preheat the broiler and remove the lid for a few minutes.
- Grate the zest of your lemon and squeeze out about 2-3 tbsp of the juice. Catch any pips.
- Make the gremolata by adding all the ingredients to a food processor and pulsing until finely chopped. Alternatively, chop by hand and mix in a small bowl.
- Serve the vegetable stew with dumplings topped with gremolata (if using) and garnish with extra chopped parsley. Enjoy your hearty, flavourful meal!
Protein per Portion: Approximately 10 grams
Carbohydrates per Portion: Approximately 46 grams
Fat per Portion: Approximately 6 grams
Fiber per Portion: Approximately 12 grams
Sugar per Portion: Approximately 9 grams
Sodium per Portion: Approximately 692 milligrams
Dumplings (for 8 servings): Calories per Portion (Dumplings only): Approximately 184 calories
Protein per Portion (Dumplings only): Approximately 6 grams
Carbohydrates per Portion (Dumplings only): Approximately 18 grams
Fat per Portion (Dumplings only): Approximately 10 grams
Fiber per Portion (Dumplings only): Approximately 1 gram
Sugar per Portion (Dumplings only): Approximately 0 grams
Sodium per Portion (Dumplings only): Approximately 400 milligrams
Gremolata (for 8 servings): Calories per Portion (Gremolata only): Approximately 46 calories
Protein per Portion (Gremolata only): Approximately 2 grams
Carbohydrates per Portion (Gremolata only): Approximately 2 grams
Fat per Portion (Gremolata only): Approximately 4 grams
Fiber per Portion (Gremolata only): Approximately 1 gram
Sugar per Portion (Gremolata only): Approximately 0 grams
Sodium per Portion (Gremolata only): Approximately 88 milligrams