When people first switch to a vegetarian diet, it can be tough to find replacements for some of your former favorite foods. For instance, you may notice that most plant-based meats have a very different texture and taste than traditional meats. This is one of the hardest changes to adapt to when you adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.
With that being said, another problem you may encounter is that many vegetarian meals may not be very filling. It can be hard to find filling, hearty meals when you first switch to being a vegetarian, and even after you have been a vegetarian for a while. After all, most vegetables aren’t very heavy or filling, and it can be hard to find meals that help vegetables become this way. Thankfully, there are ways that you can enjoy a warm bowl of a filling stew while still keeping everything vegetarian.
When most people think of a stew, they think of a meaty roast, a thick soup, and plenty of vegetables to fill the bowl with. For some people, it can be hard to imagine this kind of meal in a completely vegetarian-friendly (or even vegan-friendly) format. However, there are plenty of vegetables stews out there that you can make for yourself. There are even a handful of stews that are naturally vegetarian-friendly, so you won’t have to make any substitutions. Instead, you can focus on your delicious and filling vegetable stew.
What Are Vegetarian Stews?
While most traditional stews start with a pot roast, vegetarian stews obviously do not. Rather than relying on meat fat and bones to flavor the stew, vegetarian stew relies on heavy amounts of seasonings and herbs, including garlic, thyme, rosemary, pepper, onions, and bay leaves, some starch to thicken the stew, and some pre-made vegetable broth.
With these ingredients combined, you can create a filling and flavorful dish of vegetables that can easily beat out any meat-filled stew. In order to keep the dish just as filling and heavy as a traditional stew, you are going to want to make sure that you add a lot of vegetables to the mix. Potatoes are going to make up the bulk of the stew, alongside mushrooms, carrots, celery, and tomato paste.
There are also other meals that you can make that are stew-adjacent. These include vegetable curries. While these are not technically stews, they can offer the flavorful, hearty feeling that most stews do while also opening you up to brand-new recipes that you may not have tried before. When making vegetable curry, the curry you will want to pay the most attention to is vegetarian Thai green curry, as this often goes best with meals without meat. Keep in mind that you will want to pick out a curry paste that is specifically vegetarian, as many of them rely on fish and shrimp for flavoring.
What Substitutions Should You Make?
Of course, just because you are making a vegetable stew doesn’t mean you can’t include your own meat substitutions. If you want to add something that has a similar texture to meat, but you want to keep your stew completely vegetarian, you can consider adding tofu. It may take a few tries of experimenting with different firmness of tofu to find the one that fits your stew best, but before you know it, you will find one that works well. You should also make sure that you pay close attention to the directions for cooking the tofu to ensure that it doesn’t feel out of place in your vegetable stew recipes.
Another substitution you may have to make is with the broth. Most broths rely on chicken, beef, or another type of meat. This won’t work for a vegetarian dish, which means that you will want to look for a high-quality vegetable broth and pay close attention to the ingredients to ensure that it is completely vegetarian-friendly. The right vegetable broth will make or break your vegetable stew, so you should pay close attention to what you are purchasing.
And finally, if you are planning on making a curry, you will want to make sure you pay close attention to what is in the curry paste. Many curry pastes rely on fish, shrimp, or a combination of both to add flavor. Unless you are a pescatarian, this isn’t going to work for you. You can either find a vegetarian-friendly curry paste as a substitution, or you can make your own curry paste from scratch so you can monitor the ingredients that go into your curry.
What Are Some Alternatives?
If you are looking for a healthy, hearty, and filling alternative to a vegetarian stew, you may find that your options are rather limited. Many people find that variations of the three main curry types (red, green, and yellow) often do the trick.
It is important to ensure that you are looking for vegetarian-friendly curries, but each type of curry has its own powerful flavor profile that you can use to create the perfect dish. Many people find that vegetable curry can be just as strong and filling as a good stew, while also being a bit less time consuming to cook. It can also be a healthier alternative to stew, depending on how you cook it. For heavy vegetarian meals, there is no better alternative to stew than a good curry.
How Do You Make Vegetable Stew?
Making vegetable stew is a lot easier than many people realize. In fact, it doesn’t take that much effort to make, and the bulk of the time is spent waiting for the vegetables to stew in the broth to give everything a rich flavor. Once you have gotten all of the ingredients you plan to use in the stew, you will want to start out by adding oil (or butter) to a pot over medium heat.
From there, you will want to add some of the faster-cooking vegetables such as onions, celery, and carrots into the mix. You should cook this mix, stirring occasionally, for no more than ten minutes or until the onions have softened, whichever comes first.
Next, you should slowly add the flour to the vegetables, stirring slowly so you can coat them all. Allow the mixture to continue to cook for another minute while you stir. Then, you slowly add the wine and vegetable broth at about a quarter cup at a time, stirring as you go. Next come the heavier vegetables and some seasonings, including potatoes, tomato paste, soy sauce, and liquid smoke if you want to add extra flavor. You should bring everything to a low boil, then reduce it to a simmer. It should remain uncovered as it cooks and you should gently stir it every so often. Continue doing this until all of the vegetables are tender and the stew is thickened, which should take no longer than 30 minutes.
Lastly, add the red wine vinegar and frozen peas and stir everything in for another five minutes (or until the peas are warm). Finally, you can season everything to taste and dish it into bowls. Before you know it, you will have a piping hot bowl of flavorful, delicious vegetable stew that is both vegetarian and potentially vegan friendly.