Spring Veggie Stew
With Spring comes some of my favorite veggies of all time. Artichokes. Asparagus. Fresh sweet corn.
I’m in veggie heaven.
All of the dishes in the poll last week were veggie-packed but I was especially excited about the Veggie Stew idea since it gave me the opportunity to just cram in as many things as possible.
The end result wasn’t just tasty, it was also health in a bowl!
1) Prep all veggies before starting soup. For artichokes, cut off pointy tip and cut the stalk down to the bulb. Then pull off outside leaves and use a paring knife to carve down to the heart of the artichoke.
2) Cut artichokes into eighths and put in cold water with lemon juice until you need them.
3) To make enhanced stock, add all incredients to a large pot, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain out veggies.
4) Add 2 Cups of reconstituted mushroom liquid to stock.
5) When ready to make soup, add a few tablespoons of oil to a pot. Add leeks, celery, and artichokes. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat.
6) Add stock, asparagus, and chopped reconstituted mushrooms.
7) Cook for 10-15 minutes until asparagus and artichokes are tender.
8) Add corn and cook for another minute or two.
9) Serve with crusty bread and parsley.
If you need practice on prepping strange veggies, this is the recipe for you. I used four veggies in this post that are all kind of tricky in their own way.
Asparagus is easy enough. Snap off the rough ends and chop into about 2 inch segments.
For the corn, just strip off the husks and stand it on its end in a bowl. Use a knife to carve off the kernels. The bowl will catch the kernels so they don’t fly all over your kitchen.
For the leeks, chop off the roots and most of the greens. You’ll probably be left with about 3 inches of leek that’s edible. Slice each leek in half and run it under cold water, pulling the layers apart to wash out any dirt in between. Then chop them up.
That leaves us with the most pesky of any vegetable: ARTICHOKES.
I’ll be completely honest. I hate prepping artichokes like this. My favorite way to eat artichokes is to steam them and serve them with butter (a separate post). But for this recipe you need to trim them down to just the heart.
No two ways about it… It’s hard work.
Start by using a sharp knife (I like to use a paring knife) to chop off the pointy top of the artichoke.
It’ll be pretty, but vexing.
Use your fingers to rip off any of the outside leaves that you can. Then use your paring knife to slowly whittle down to the center of the artichoke. In the center, there are like a thousand annoying little stamen things. The easiest way to deal with them is just to cut out the whole section in one swoop.
Eventually, you’ll be left with a few ounces of artichoke that’ll be very tender and delicious in the soup.
Whoever ate these first must have been very hungry, but thank god they figured it out because they are really tasty.
I quartered my hearts as I did them, but I think that was a bit big for the soup. I’d recommend cutting them into eighths.
When you’re done with each heart, add it to a bowl of cold water with some lemon juice in it. That’ll keep the hearts from turning really brown.
PHEW. Seriously, the artichokes are the hardest part of this recipe. It’s smooth sailing from here. If you wanted to leave them out you definitely could.
It’s no secret that a good stock is the most important part of any good soup or stew.
That said, sometimes you may not have time to make stock from scratch. The recipe above is what I do to enhance store bought stock to give it a bit more flavor.
I start with store bought stock and a few cups of water and then add lots of fresh veggies and aromatics. I bring everything to a boil and let it simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes or so.
It’ll end up being very good and trim a few hours off of making homemade stock.
For this version, I also reconstituted some dried mushrooms by adding them to a big bowl of hot water.
After they sat for about 15 minutes, I added 2 Cups of the mushroom broth to my stock also which gave it a great earthy flavor. You can chop up the mushrooms obviously and add them to the stew as well.
Making the Stew
Before you get started on the stew, make sure you have everything ready. It comes together pretty quickly actually and you don’t want to overcook it or your veggies will get really soggy.
So have everything ready!
Start by adding a few tablespoons of oil or butter to a large pot over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the leeks, celery, and artichoke hearts to the pan. Cook them for about 6 minutes until the leeks are starting to get soft and are nice and fragrant.
Then add all your stock to the pan along with the asparagus and mushrooms. Bring it all to a boil and let it simmer until the asparagus and artichokes are tender, probably another 10-15 minutes.
You want them tender, but not soggy!
Then stir in the corn and cook for another minute or so. It’ll cook really quickly.
Then you’re all set!
Before you serve this be sure to taste it for salt and pepper. Depending on the stock you use, it may not need much. Mine needed a good pinch of both though.
Serve this garnished with some fresh parsley and lots of crusty bread.
When I was picking veggies for this stew, I just went to the produce section and picked out a few things that looked fresh and nice. I’d recommend you do the same. You could use frozen, but fresh is always best! If you can get your hands on some fresh peas, they would be great in this also.
Betsy and I have been eating on this for a few days now and I feel really healthy every time I have a bowl of it.