Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vegetarian Brunswick stew

From this week: lima beans, corn, spinach

From weeks past: potatoes, chili sauce

Staples: tomato puree, oil, onions, garlic, cayenne, worcestershire sauce, salt, bay leaf, sugar

I told my boyfriend, Alex, that I was going to try to make vegetarian Brunswick stew. His response was "what's the difference between that and vegetable soup?"

He's sassy.

Brunswick stew is a deliciously sweet/spicy/tangy tomato-based stew that you can find at any BBQ restaurant from Virginia to Florida or, if you're lucky like me, on the stove at your grandparents' house. The Bible Wikipedia says that Brunswick stew is traditionally made with any combination of chicken, pork, beef, rabbit, squirrel (!!!!!), lima beans, corn, okra, and other veggies. So yeah, I guess removing the meat does sort of make it vegetable soup, but there's just something about Brunswick stew that your typical vegetable soup doesn't have.

I think that something is ketchup. For me, it's that zippy sweetness that makes Brunswick stew, Brunswick stew. Okay, so I don't know that the most traditional of Brunswick stew recipes call for ketchup (every one I've tasted seemed like it did). And actually, I didn't use ketchup (chili sauce is basically extra-zippy ketchup). But just go with me.

The other two essential ingredients are lima beans and corn (creamed, for sweetness), and lucky for me, there's no shortage of canned vegetables at my sad local grocery store. So I strapped on my boots and headed out in the blizzard to collect the ingredients for my Brunswick stew.

Since I wasn't using meat, I added potatoes for substance and spinach for the stringy, chewy texture that chicken and pork (and rabbit and squirrel?) lend. And it's great. Unfortunately, I had the bright idea to turn on my dishwasher full of spoons at about the same time as I set the soup to simmering, so I can't enjoy a whole bowl, but I'm pretty positive it'll be a great snow-day late lunch.

Next time I make this (and I'll advise you to do the same), I'll probably add an additional can of corn (regular, not creamed) or lima beans, and maybe some okra. As is, it's pretty soupy, which is not a bad thing, but I think it could use some more veggies.

It is vegetable soup, after all.

Brunswick stew
Serves 8-10

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lb potatoes (any kind), diced
1 tsp cayenne pepper*
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 28 oz can tomato puree
44 oz (1.5 cans-ful or 5.5 cups) water
2/3 cup chili sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 15oz can lima beans
1 15oz can creamed sweet corn
5 oz fresh spinach leaves, torn, tough stems discarded

Heat oil in heavy soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, potatoes, and cayenne and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add salt, tomato puree, water, sugar, chili sauce, worcestershire sauce, and bay leaf, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender when stuck with a knife. Stir in lima beans and corn, and simmer for 20 more minutes. Add spinach and let wilt. Discard bay leaf and serve. Note: Stew will get better as it cooks, so you can make this early and leave it over low heat until you're ready for it (or your spoons are clean).

* This recipe is spicy; if you don't like spice as much as I do, you can half (or omit) the cayenne. The chili sauce, by itself, adds a decent amount of spice.

1 comment:

  1. I love stews. They're so forgiving, and I don't feel super guilty about eating copious amounts of them. And Brunswick stew is a favorite. Do add the okra; I can't ever get enough in soups/stews!

    Bless you for braving that blizzard--hope you're staying warm!