What I love most about this recipe is the fact that you can't really go wrong. Whichever vegetables you choose to put into the stew and however long it takes you to prepare them whilst things are cooking away, it always turn out great. I've put this dish together countless times and have doubtlessly gone about it slightly differently each time, but it doesn't matter one bit.
This vegetable stew will feed two people for a few days and if anything it gets better the second time around once it has had the chance to thicken up some more.
- Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
- Add the sliced onion and fry for a couple of minutes until translucent.
- Add the crushed garlic and stir in with the onion.
- After a few more minutes add the chopped leeks along with the glass of red wine and fry until the alcohol has evaporated.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and tomatoes and stir to heat through evenly. If using fresh tomatoes add a little boiling water at this point to make up for the lack of tinned juice.
- Roughly chop the potato, parsnip and carrot and add to the pot. Pour in boiling water until the water is just visible through the chopped veg, add in the vegetable stock cubes and then stir well.
- Now is the time to add any other ingredients you may have to hand to fill your stew pot. I added some fine green beans but chopped pepper, aubergine, asparagus, etc would also work well, as does a tin of baked beans.
- Next, add your flavouring. I like to add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, a good splodge of tomato ketchup, a teaspoon of garam masala, turmeric, cumin and chili powder, two teaspoons of curry powder, a pinch of salt and a healthy grind of pepper.
- Stir the stew once more before lowering the heat slightly and covering your saucepan. Leave to simmer for around 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Sieve the flour, salt, pepper and parsley into a large mixing bowl. Add the shredded suet and mix well.
- Gradually add some water, a tablespoon at a time, combining the mixture with your hands until it forms a fairly stiff, non-sticky dough. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic and then roll it into a sausage shape.
- Evenly cut into 8 or so pieces with a sharp knife and then mould into balls with your hands.
- Once the stew has simmered for roughly 45 minutes, stir well and then add your dumplings, submerging them into the stew with the back of a spoon. Now is a good time to taste the stew and add more seasoning if necessary.
- Cover the stew again and cook for another 20-30 minutes. The dumplings are ready once they have risen to the surface.
- Dish out the stew and serve with a nice, crusty bread.