My father-in-law was reminiscing a few years ago about a family dish his mom used to make when he was a little boy. It was a stew, he recalled in great detail, with beef, beans, and root vegetables. He posed a challenge for me, wondering if I could create a vegan version for him. He remembered that his mother would cook this hearty meal on the stove over a very low flame for many long hours, sometimes even overnight. I welcomed his challenge, and started to do a little research.
It turns out this is a variation of a very old northern European dish. I took some liberties with the seasonings, and eliminated the animal products, but otherwise tried to replicate most of the traditional ingredients. After several experiments, I was ready with my answer to his challenge – a rich, hearty stew, with carrots, barley, and potatoes, seasoned with garlic, onions, and cumin. My father-in-law was really happy with this, so I’ve been making it for him ever since.
Although it seems like a lot of ingredients, the slow cooker really does the work. During these frigid months, a long cooking dish like this is delicious and comforting. And my husband ending up loving this stew so much, it’s become a new winter classic for us.
Serve this stew piping hot. Add a fresh crisp salad, steamed greens, and a loaf of warm, whole-grain bread for a simple, homey meal with lots of cozy flavors.
WINTER STEW WITH POTATOES, BARLEY, AND LENTILS
1 1/2 quarts vegetable broth
1 large onion, diced
1 cup uncooked pearl barley, rinsed (not quick-cooking)
3/4 cup uncooked brown lentils
8 small potatoes, peeled, and cut into 1-inch or 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 4 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste)
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (or to taste)
Combine all ingredients in large (6- or 7-quart) slow cooker. Cover and set to high for 7 hours, or until all vegetables are soft and tender. Season if needed with additional salt and pepper, to taste.