A vegetable stew is always a great dish, at any time of year and with all kinds of seasonal vegetables.
Always healthy, always quick to prepare and always inexpensive. And always delicious – if you follow a few simple basic techniques.
That’s why today we have these tips in the know-how category. It’s not a recipe, but it’s still easy to replicate. Quantities don’t make much sense, follow your feeling and taste instead.
At our vegetable stall today, we particularly liked fennel, kohlrabi, carrots, potatoes, bell peppers and mushrooms. For flavours we bought red onions, young garlic, parsley, dill, mint and a lemon.
Every vegetable has its season, and we also buy as regionally as possible. For this reason alone, no two vegetable stews are ever the same. In addition, everyone has their likes and dislikes for and against certain types of vegetables. You should therefore simply try to create a balanced mixture of different textures and taste components:
Potatoes retain a certain firmness, but provide less flavour than other vegetables. On the other hand, they are very saturating. Kohlrabi, carrots and fennel provide strong flavours and also remain quite firm. Peppers are more tender and soften much faster, and this is even more true for mushrooms. Onions and garlic develop their special flavours with patient sautéing and function more as spices than as a garnish for your stew. You must also treat the vegetables according to these different characteristics.
That was some preamble, let’s get started!
Except for the peel of the potatoes, all the peels and sections of the vegetables are usable and should not be thrown away under any circumstances. So we first clean or peel the hard vegetables – in our case kohlrabi, carrots and fennel – and keep the peels separate. In the case of fennel, there is nothing to peel, but a few trimmings. You can add the fennel greens to your herbs.
We cut the hard vegetables into pleasant but not too small cubes. They will give our stew some bite. We also cut the potatoes into such cubes, but throw the skins away.
Onions and garlic are also peeled and finely chopped – according to taste.
First important technique: We cook our vegetables not only in water, but in their own broth.
To do this, we add a little neutral-tasting oil to our peelings and trimmings and heat them over medium-high heat. Let everything sauté well and even roast delicately at the bottom of the pot.
After about eight minutes, we add the stems of the mushrooms, which will add extra flavour and umami to our broth.
When the vegetables have taken on some colour, we deglaze with a little white wine. Chinese cooking wine (Shao Xing) is also very suitable and we always recommend having it in the house – not only for Chinese cuisine. If you don’t like either or don’t have it at hand, just use a little water. We stir at the bottom of the pot, where the resulting roasted substances immediately dissolve and give us a first, strong base for the broth:
Now we just pour in water and let everything simmer until the full flavour is extracted. This takes at least 30 minutes, an hour would be better. The amount of water is not so important, because the amount of flavour remains the same. We use enough water to cover all our vegetable trimmings and put a lid on.
The result is a strong vegetable broth. It is best to use a sturdy sieve so that you can squeeze the vegetables completely and not waste anything.
In the meantime, patiently sauté the cubes of hard vegetables with the onions and garlic in a little neutral oil over medium-high heat. If you like, you can also add a little butter.
Then add your homemade broth and top up with a little water if necessary.
Keep testing with a fork: when the root vegetables start to soften, add the soft vegetables – in our case peppers and mushrooms. They do not take long to cook.
Now we season with salt, pepper and dried herbs: one or two bay leaves, some rosemary and thyme. Feel free to use whatever you like.
After about 15 minutes of gentle simmering, the stew is ready. For extra flavour and freshness, we chop the parsley, mint and dill as well as the fennel greens and set aside our lemon.
We serve our vegetable stew with some herbs and a few sprinkles of lemon juice.
And may the taste be with you.
What you like and what is available.
Use different vegetables of different textures if possible and cook them in the order of their cooking time.
Add salt, black pepper and herbs of your choice.
A little lemon goes very well with it, especially in spring and summer.
That’s all it needs.