Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hearty Navy Bean Stew

It is the time of year for warming soups and stews.  Eating a bowl of hot soup can really ground you during this season of cold cold temps and snow all over the place.  Although they can be quick - cooking only for about an hour - you can start a soup early in the morning, or just after lunch, and let it slow cook aaaaaaaalllllll day.  It makes the whole house smell yummy.  Just walking by that bubbly stew can instantly warm your soul.

We have been eating soups or stews nearly every night this week.  I really could eat them every day.

Here's a recipe for a bean stew that uses seitan as a protein source in addition to the beans.  Seitan is a wheat gluten protein, so if you are sensitive to wheat or gluten, steer clear!  You can find seitan at any health food stores or major grocery stores.  The kind I prefer to buy is a "chicken-style" seitan.  It's been 18 years since I've had a piece of chicken, so I can't really tell you how it really compares.  My guess is that you can't even think of it as chicken in any manner of ways - even though it's labeled with those words.  Seitan has a very chewy texture.  It usually comes in a vacuum packed container in the refrigerator section, packed in a broth.  It does contain salt, so make sure you adjust the salt that you would add accordingly.

I usually start this soup by soaking a cup of dry beans the night before, draining and rinsing them the next morning, and cooking them.  Once the beans are tender (after about 1 hour), I throw everything else into the pot, and cook it for about an hour.  Sorta changes up the directions, I know.  The recipe below calls for canned beans for quickness.  Use whichever you prefer.

Hearty Navy Bean Stew

2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped with skin

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can vegetable broth
1 15 oz. can white beans with liquid
1 10 oz. package frozen spinach

1 12 oz. package regular seitan, chopped
1 T. dried basil
1 T. dried parsley
2 bay leaves
salt to taste

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and saut√© the onion and sweet potato over medium-high heat until the onion is soft, about 5 – 10 minutes .  Add the next four ingredients.  Cook until the spinach is thawed.  Add the chopped seitan and spices.  Simmer until all the vegetables are soft, 45 – 60 minutes.

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