Monday, 20 December 2010

Winter Vegetable and Ale Stew

I made this Winter Vegetable stew for my mother in law at the weekend. She flew back to England last night. Whilst she was here, she described herself as a 'Southern Softy' as the cold weather in Scotland was a little too much for her to bare. She said she felt like the Michelin Tyre woman all wrapped up and unable to move for all the thick layers she had on.
This stew is very similar to the Winter Root Vegetable Stew I made early this year. The main difference with the stew is the choice of alcohol. In the previous stew I used cider and in this one it was Ale. I have to admit I am not a beer drinker at all and was actually going to substitute the alcohol content with additional vegetable stock, but D encouraged me to give it a go. I obliged as we don't eat many dishes that contain alcohol.

Well I thought if I was going to put Ale into my Stew, as an 'honorary Scot' it should be made with a Scottish ale. I chose one charmingly called Old Jock Ale. It is said here that the soldiers of the Highland and Lowland Regiments of Scotland had been referred to as "Jocks", a term of endearment.
The Stew certainly had layers of flavour. Sweetness from the swede and carrots, 'meaty' texture from the Portobello mushrooms and the ale which gave the sauce more body and depth. On top of this the soft fluffy dumplings that just melted in your mouth. Although I did not mind eating this stew, the alcohol content is something I have to get used to as D has said he'd be happy to eat this again. The way the snow is still falling here, I have a feeling I will be making this stew again - soon too. I served this stew with some Brussels sprouts and shredded green cabbage.
If you decided to make this stew. Please ensure that the vegetables are chopped to a similar size, so that they cook well.
Winter Vegetable Stew with dumplings
Serves 4
For the StewIngredients1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 – 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium swede or rutabaga, peeled and chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
200g Portobello or chestnut mushrooms
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon plain flour
350ml Ale
600ml vegetable stock
1 tablespoon Marmite or alternative yeast extract
1 tablespoon sun dried tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
MethodIn a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add all the chopped vegetables and stir fry for a few minutes until the vegetables are beginning to look translucent around the edges. Add the mushrooms and the flour. Stir to combine, then pour in the ale, vegetable stock, tomato puree, rosemary and yeast and bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Season to taste. Whilst the stew is simmering, make the dumplings.
For the (cheesy) dumplings
120g self-raising flour
50g vegetable suet
1 teaspoon mustard powder
80g cheddar, grated (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cold water to combine
MethodThe dumplings need to be added 15 minutes before the stew is ready.
In a bowl add flour, vegetables suet, cheese and seasoning to taste. Add enough water to combine and make a firm, not sticky dough. Then with floured hands, break the dough into 8 – 12 pieces and roll them into rough round dumplings. Add them gently to the stew, pushing them down into the liquid. Simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the dumplings have doubled in size. Slightly adapted from Rachel Demuths Green Seasons Cookbook.


  1. That's a hearty soup. Anything with ale is good in my book. It is the first time I see someone put marmite in soup. It is probably my unfamiliarity on marmite/vegemite.

  2. It looks like a very comforting stew, never made one with ale.

    Keep warm and best wishes for the Holiday Season.


  3. Thank you Victor.
    The marmite gives the vegetarian stew a deep flavour.

    Thanks Alessandra.
    Just noted your new avatar :)
    Happy seasonal holidays to you and your family too x

  4. sounds yummy, very tempted to try this in between Christmas and New Year,

    thanks for the recipe,

    happy Christmas

    Jane x

  5. Wow! Looks great! Now I am back with my family for Christmas I am finally going to try some of your recipes as I have people to cook for now!

  6. This looks like real comfort food! And the idea of dumplings takes me right back to my childhood. I'm going to bookmark this for a day when I need a woolly socks and open kinda meal :-)

    Hope you're keeping warm up there with all that snow!

  7. It's snowing and cold here and I sure could use a bowl of this to help warm me up! It looks delish!

  8. Mmmm this looks so satisfying. I think I see some of this in my near future. I love adding wine/beer/sherry to recipes.

  9. I should know better to come to your blog when I'm hungry. That looks marvelous

  10. This is my kind of soup! Actually, everything you make I want to eat. Too bad we aren't neighbors!

  11. just my sort of stew - though I always hope the alcohol boils off.

    I feel like a southern softy when I read about your wintery weather - we are whinging about temperatures being under 20 C - though it is the time of year when we put away winter coats and never turn on our heaters!

  12. Looks great! I LOVE dumplings and hearty stews like this. I'm sure the ale would go down well with Steve too.

  13. Thanks Jane.
    happy Christmas to you too.

    Thanks Vegetarian Girl.
    I do hope you family enjoy what you make for them. Please let me know how it goes?!

    Thank you so much AlisonM.
    This certainly is comfort food. It makes you feel all warm inside when it cold outside. :-)

    Thanks laurie.
    I wish I could serve you a bowl of this, to warm you up on these snowy days!

    Thanks Rose.
    I hope you enjoy your version of Winter Veg Stew when you make it. Yeah, I have to get used to the flavour of beer drinks, I have no problem with red wine :)

    Thanks Grace
    I wish you could see my big cheesy grin :D

    Thank you Anna A.
    Such a huge compliment.
    But please be honest when you see a dish on my blog that does not take your fancy, because there will eventually be one that you won't like too much the look of :)

    Thank you Johanna GGG.
    The strong alcohol does boil off, but it does leave a distinct flavour behind.

    Ah you sweetie, so you too are a 'southern softy' :) I think I'd be happy to swap places with you right now.

    Thank you so much Louise.

  14. looks gorgeous! i cant wait to try this soon! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  15. Thank you so much Claire.
    Merry Christmas to you too.

  16. Aw this looks so tasty! Is definitely what is needed with all this cold weather! Hope you had a lovely time with your mother in law. She was lucky to make it back with all the snow and the airports being closed! xo

  17. I love your rustic, hearty recipes and this one particularly as I love the ingredients. The addition of cheesy dumplings = win in my book!

  18. Thanks Sophie.
    Your right she was. She was fretting whether she would make it back.

    Thank you Emma.
    Yay for rustic. Yay for hearty!

  19. Yum! Looks absolutely delicious! xx Vanessa

  20. This looks SO unbelievably good for the weather right now! Even though I am in Sunny Southern California we have had rain for 5 days straight! So soups and comforts foods are what I want since Im COLD. :)

  21. Thank you Vanessa.

    Thanks Morgan.
    Do you want to swap your rain for snow?!
    I'll send you up a bowl :P

  22. looks like I'm late. I could use a stew like that right now :)

  23. Hi Steffi.
    I am sure I will be making another pot in not too long - the weather here is rather chilly.

  24. Ale in a stew is a new concept to me as well, but it certainly came out beautifully! I've used Blue Moon and oranges in a marinade for a turkey before and the alcohol content wasn't a problem, so I will definitely be giving this recipe a try within the next few days! Perhaps it will help ward off the cold wet weather Portland's been having as of late, stews are always a great inner-heater :)

  25. Hi, Angeline from Malaysia. U really have a gorgeous blog! Have a nice day.

  26. UM I think this sounds like the perfect dinner for my bagpipe playing brother. Can't wait to try it. Just finished making the Leek and Rosemary.It was a hit with everyone. Recipe didn't specify when to add the chickpeas. Put them in with the potatoes and it seemed to work

  27. Thanks Eva,
    Anything that will help ward off the cold: wet weather in Portland for you; and Snow in the Central Scotland for me can only be a good thing :)

    Thank you AngelineBK.

  28. Thanks The Hobbit.
    I do hope you get to make this then for your bagpipe playing brother. Please let me know how you find it. Thanks for letting me know about the chickpeas in the Leek and Rosemary soup (I've updated the recipe).I am so pleased to read that it was a hit with everyone.

  29. Yum yum yum! I am really enjoying soup lately :)

  30. This looks like it would be wonderful on a cold winter evening- delicious!

  31. Thanks Kate.

    Thanks scrambledhenfruit.

  32. Dearest Mango, so sorry to hear of your cold Christmas. Please accept my warmest wishes to you and your family for a brighter new year.


  33. beauty-ful stew. just read your new post and i do understand how you feel - my dad passed a month before xmas 2 years ago and it was hard for us as well. i'll be watching entourage on dvd :)

  34. My condolences to you and your family, Mango, on the loss of your father-in-law. Keep his spirit close in this season of light. I know how hard that can be.

  35. Thank you for your kind words Eggy.

    Thank you. I am so sorry to read about your father. Keep well x

    Thank you so much for your kind words Barbara.

  36. Looks very tasty!!! Thanks for stopping by!!!

  37. Quelles ravissantes photos!! Merci pour ce fabuleux Partage et de très Joyeuses Fêtes:)xxx

  38. Than you so much for your wonderful words Lexibule, which I had fun translating. Kind wishes and Happy New Year to you.

  39. Your wonderful recipe reminded me of the wonderful food that is dumplings. Last night the male things in this house tucked into a steak and veg casserole with dumplings and I a veggie one. I hope 2011 is a happier year for you and your family. xx

  40. Thank you so much Fiona.
    Glad you got to tuck into a veggie version.
    Happy New Year to you too.

  41. I tried the recipe out! It was really yummy. The marmite was a bit strong for me, so next time might do it without, or try your original stew!x

  42. Thanks Vegetarian Girl.
    So pleased you liked it.
    Yes, I agree marmite can be strong.


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