‘Soul-food’ means lots of different things to lots of people. It’s generally hearty food, food to keep you going through the day, food that makes you take a second to remember where you’re from. I was brought up in South Wales, with a half-Irish mother. Now I don’t know if you know much about Welsh and Irish cuisine, but what they have in common is a damn-good cockle-warming stew. I would say that I had stew for dinner at least once week, every week when I was growing up. Lamb stew is a true Welsh classic, and on a freezing cold winters day there was nothing better than coming in to a big steaming bowl, a slab of bread and a few slices of cheddar cheese to dip in and let it melt. I’m vegetarian now, and have been for the last five years, so whilst there’s no lamb for me, there’s definitely still stew!
We used to alternate different stews when I was growing up, and this is an adaptation of my mum’s vegetable stew. There really isn’t a meal as cheap, simple or as wholesome that I can think of to keep you through the winter. This recipe uses mainly root vegetables, but you can throw in peas, or any greens you fancy. When I was little I remember my mum throwing baked beans in the second day, to make it go a little bit further… so I include them in my recipe from the start. This is my favourite sort of meal to cook… cut up the veg, stick it in a pot and leave it until your too hungry to wait anymore. Easy-peasy, Welsh soul-food!!
(Note: Whilst being the perfect comfort food, this recipe is also completely vegan, and gf… you can’t go wrong)
- 1 large brown/ white onion
- 3-4 carrots (depending on size)
- 4 medium potatoes (any sort)
- 1 large parsnip
- 1 turnip
- 4 celery sticks
- 1 can of baked beans
- 1 litre of vegetable stock
- A little dried oregano/ basil / thyme / rosemary
- Heat a glut of olive oil in a large saucepan / crockpot
- Finely dice the onion and add to the pot. Allow to soften for a few minutes
- Chop up the potatoes and root vegetables and the celery, how big is up to you. I personally prefer fairly large chunks of veg, for a more rustic-style stew, but you can go small and neat if you want.
- Transfer the veg and potatoes to the pot. Put the lid on and allow to cook for about 5 minutes
- Make up your vegetable stock to approximately 1 litre.
- Pour the stock over the vegetables, and add the baked beans
- Add a little seasoning, and about half a teaspoon of assorted dried herbs
- Allow to cook on a medium-low heat with the lid on for AT LEAST half an hour.
- Serve with a thick slice of crusty bread and little cheese.