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Snow Day Stew

The cold, gray days of winter have set in for the long haul and are beginning to drain the color from everything around, including our food. Too often, our winter meals become very monochromatic and less appealing than their spring and summertime counterparts simply because of what is in season on the vegetable aisle. I also find that wintertime can often become a repetitive set of meals from week to week, adding to the cold weather blues.
This week, we had another round of snow, like many people around the country. While snowed in, I was determined to make something warm, comforting, and flavorful without all of the heaviness of a typical wintertime meal. My favorite go to in a situation such as this is a large pot of bubbling stew.
I call them stews because I prefer my soups thicker and heartier than traditional recipes. I love to see chunks of vegetables, filled with color, in a bowl with a flavorful broth. This stew was perfect.
Although you may look at this recipe and think that is it just another vegetable soup, you would be missing out on something extraordinary. The incorporation of the stock with the herb combination transforms this standard stew to something new and intriguing.
So as you are bundled up inside your house during these winter days, give this stew a try. Serve it with a nice grilled cheese and you are ready for a comforting meal. The only way you will be disappointed is if you don't make this right away!
2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil
1/2 pound Stew Beef
1/2 Onion, diced
1 cup Carrot, diced
1 1/2 cup Potato, diced
1 1/2 cup Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1 quart Whole Tomatoes
1 Bay Leaf
2 1/4 teaspoons Salt, divided
1 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper, divided
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Dried Basil
1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
1. In a large heavy bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat. When the oil is glistening, add the stew beef to the pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Allow to sear on the first side for 2 minutes before stirring. Continue to allow the meat to sear on all sides for a total of 5 minutes.
2. Add the onion to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrot and potato, cooking for another 2 minutes.
3. Pour half of the stock into the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all of the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining stock.
4. Add the tomatoes to the pan, breaking each apart as added.
5. Add the remaining ingredients.
6. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and allow to cook for 90 minutes.
7. Spoon into a bowl and enjoy!

*Note: This stew can easily be made vegetarian without missing any of the flavor. Simply omit the browning of the meat step and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock. Delicious!

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