"Snowed In" Stew

by Sarah on December 30, 2010 · 3 comments

Sadly, the title of this post does not refer to one of the best Christmas albums of all time, made by Hanson, and titled, you guessed it…Snowed In. But if your mind went there immediately…I commend you.


So, what’s a girl to do when a Lemony Snickett-style series of unfortunate events, including heavy snow and an emergency brake that just won’t quit* lead to being snowed in rather than taking your planned trip to D.C.?

*[Working]…unlike with female bodies, this is not a good thing.

Make stew of course.

But how? How can you make stew if you can’t even get to the grocery store?

Well, you take stock of the kitchen…and say a little prayer (for you)…thanking your lucky stars and being really, really, REALLY happy that Mama Smart had some fleeting notion of making a form of New England Boiled Dinner prior to the Christmas weekend and also belonged to a CSA, yet unfortunately doesn’t seem to be able to eat three butternut squashes on her own in one week (unlike her daughter*).

*That would be me. Just in case you got lost up there.And so, upon searching through the random drawers of the fridge and peeking through assorted bags and shelves in the pantry, you discover that you’ve got quite a plethora of simply stew-per* ingredients!

*Sorry. Couldn’t help it.

A butternut squash, a whole bunch of celery, yellow cooking onions, red potatoes, garlic, a head of cabbage, three big ol’ parsnips…

…and baby carrots. LOTS and LOTS of baby carrots. [These were actually the ones leftover from serving with my Holiday Hummus…there were three more bags in the fridge. To be fair, my dog likes them too, so they could have been for her.]And since you’re snowed in…you really have all the time in the world to chop…

…and chop…

…and peel and chop…
…and chop some more…

…and since you probably normally like to use “real” carrots rather than “baby” carrots* when you make soup, you’ll go ahead and chop the babies to make it seem like you used big mama carrots instead.

*Yes, I know baby carrots are simply big carrots cut down to mini-size and not made that way, unlike miniature Twix or Snickers or Milky Way Dark.

You will NOT, however, take the time to cut out the woody center of the parsnips like you are “supposed to.” [You are stewing it anyways…if it doesn’t soften up, you haven’t cooked it long enough!]Once you’ve done all that chopping, you’ll realize you don’t know what type of stew you are going to make. Are you going to take a trip to Spain and get crazy with saffron? Perhaps you’ll just take the easy way out and dump out half a jar of Italian seasoning, calling it a day? Maybe you’ll rely on your new favorite seasoning blend: Herbs de Provence!

And then, you will be struck my inspiration….MOROCCO! YES!

Excited, you will look in the pantry at your mama’s spices and discover that there is an utterly tragical* lack of cumin to be found. No cumin at all. Although at first you question if perhaps she is your real mother, you do find five different containers of cinnamon…

*Like magical, but sad.

and five varieties of curry powder, and know that you must be related somehow.“There will never be an oatmeal raisin cookie or spicy curry emergency in THIS house!”

So, in the end you will decide to rely on some old favorites and trusted companions:
sage, bay leaves, thyme, and tarragon

…the last of which is apparently good for use on turtle. Yes, it says turtle. Tarragon flavored turtle. [I don’t make this stuff up, people, I just pay very close attention.]

So you get your aromatics…onions, garlic, and celery…

…and you won’t forget to use the center of the stalk, because that is the most flavorful part…

You’ll pop those in the stew pot with a nice glug (or four) of olive oil…….and a crazy generous helping of herbs.Stir and heat until they are soft…
(Curse the sun for its annoying glare.)

Then add in all the other veggies! As we like to follow the “layer the flavor” rule when cooking soups and stews, you’ll want to go ahead and add even MORE seasoning, throwing caution to the wind and not measuring at all, adding pepper, and the secret spicy ingredient: Once the veggies have cooked up a bit (3-5 minutes or so)…

Add 8 cups of the chicken broth you are lucky enough to have on hand…
…as well as 4 cups of water (there are a heck of a lot of veggies in that pot).
Once the whole thing has come up to a boil, in goes half a head of cabbage!
So pretty and green when it goes in…
…so soon to become translucent and plain-looking…adding nothing to the overall image (good or bad).
Things will get a little crazy in the pot.
Lots of bubbling and boiling is a good, good thing.
Keep adding more seasoning…and a dash of vinegar!
Lower heat and let cook until all the veggies are soft enough to bite through without potential loss of fillings or the need for new caps on your teeth.
As with all stews, the flavor will be better the following day……. but you can go ahead and eat it that night. Perhaps with some beer bread?

“Snowed-In” Stew

4 stalks celery + center leaves, diced
3 small onions, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
dried thyme, tarragon, sage, black pepper, cloves
2 bay leaves
3 medium red potatoes, diced
2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced into 1-inch chunks
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch chunks
2 cups diced carrots
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
8 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1. Heat 4 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a large stew pot. Add celery, onions, and garlic.
2. Add bay leaves and 2 tsp. each sage, thyme, tarragon, and black pepper. Stir well.
3. When onions are soft and translucent, add potatoes, parsnips, squash, and carrots, along with another teaspoon of all seasonings, plus 1 tsp. cloves.
4. Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly.
5. Add broth and water to the pot, along with another teaspoon of all seasonings. Bring to a boil.
6. Add cabbage and reduce heat. Allow stew to simmer until vegetables are tender.
7. Serve with a crusty bread…preferably covered in melted cheese.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tricia @ Savnig room for dessert December 30, 2010 at 12:36 pm

This is why you're in the Smart Kitchen! Did you ever watch a show (when you were a small girl) named Fraggle Rock? We had a children's book titled "Boober's Colorful Soup" after one of the characters. Your soup looks like "Sarah's colorful soup!"


Maria @ Oh Healthy Day December 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm

That stew looks incredible! What an easy way to get in tons of veggie servings!


Missy December 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Looks and sounds ….wait for it…

I love that I am not the only one who "gets lazy with the italion seasoning"

Sers–It can do no harm. Ever.



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