Creamy Potato & Beer Stew

It’s no secret to anyone paying attention that my household is solidly a soup household. We don’t object to soup and there’s no such thing as too many days with soup on the menu, which is a good thing since the weather has already dipped into the negatives over the past few days.

The negatives y’all. Despite living in Europe for a few years now, my skin is squarely stuck in Los Angeles, trembling terribly under this ice cold weather. But the only thing good about this kind of cold is that nothing feels better after being out in the cold than piping hot soup. And I do mean piping hot. It’s a constant debate in our house because He likes it warm enough to enjoy but not burn his mouth and if it isn’t still steaming in my bowl, I’m not interested.

But this was no day for a light little vegetable soup so I decided to make a stew and I knew I wanted to add lentils so we have potato and lentil stew, which isn’t quite as simple as it sounds flavor-wise, but it’s pretty easy to make.

This recipe was based on a non-vegan recipe I came across in line at the supermarket in Austria though I’m sure I left out a few key ingredients aside from heavy cream and beef broth. I’m totally okay with that!

Making this soup is easy but it does require some prep which is often my weakness. I tend to chop the stuff I need first and then turn on the fire which means I’m always rushing to chop-dice-slice everything else before anything burns. But this time I actually remembered to remind myself to do all the prep first and it made all the difference.

What you’ll need: 6 potatoes, 1 fennel bulb, 1 parsnip, 2 leeks (just the white part), 10 garlic cloves, 1 cup yellow lentils, 1 brown beer, vegetable stock, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, salt & pepper, basil, marjoram.

Get the lentils started cooking so everything comes together at the same time.

I used a splash of olive oil (cold pressed, extra virgin) to get a little bit of char on the first four ingredients and then I added the garlic and cooked for another 8 or so minutes before adding broth. Let the mixture cook until it’s soft and let cool so you can get a stick blender and make it nice and creamy.

Use the blender to get the potato-fennel mixture nice and soft and creamy. It tastes like there’s butter and cream in it, but there isn’t. It’s just the power of the potato. Now that you’ve got perfect smoothness, add the beer a 1/2 cup at a time plus the seasonings until you’re satisfied. Turn the heat back on until it’s hot and you’re ready to grub!

To serve, just add about a serving spoon of lentils right in the center.

No stew meal is complete without salad and thick, herby, buttery bread.

Fair warning; this recipe makes about 8 normal sized bowls of soup so be prepared to pig out or have leftovers for tomorrow!

Too bad I didn’t remember to get a photo of the beer but it was a dark hefe from Paulaner. Brown beer works best to me because I’m not a fan of IPA and blond beers aren’t my favorite. If you try a different beer, let me know how it turns out.

And don’t be shy about photos!

Vegan Family Style Meals

So, here we are at my first Friday as a resident of Romania–officially–and my belly is full. Not stuffed, mind you, just that I have been indulging a little more than I should on some fine Romanian food that my mother-in-law has graciously made while we get our place set up, our fridge filled with food and as we shake off the final dregs of moving.

Have I mentioned how much I loath moving? Not the whole adventure of going to a new place and learning about their culture, their customs and of course, their cuisine. But just the packing and cleaning, even more cleaning and then unpacking and rearranging. All of that I could totally do without. But it is a necessary evil and now that it’s in my past I am determined to forget it.

Until the next move.

Over the past few days despite the warmer than usual for October weather outside, we have been eating soup. A lot of soup. Part of it is due to the fact that Romanian cuisine, much like American cuisine (And German, and Hungarian…just sayin’) is wholly based around animals. Meat and cheese reign supreme here, which means that even my well-meaning MIL has trouble coming up with meals that don’t include meat.

Or a side of meat.

Or a side of brânză (cheese).