Christmas Beef Stew

We had a great time Friday night — conversation, a few early gifts — and the best pot of stew I’ve ever made!  It calls for some really specific details, but it’s those details that made it so yummy!

Believe it or not, each 12 oz bowl will come to about 340 calories.

Makes 12 servings
340 calories each

4 – 4.5 lb closely trimmed top sirloin beef roast, cut to 3/4″ cubes
* [preferably Angus, or other no-growth hormone/no antibiotic organically fed beef]
2 T EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
3 T salted butter

4 qt beef broth/stock  (organic commercial stock will do)
2 c chicken broth/stock (organic commercial stock will do)
3 c V-8 juice

10 oz carrots, cut into matchsticks
8 oz sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
12 oz celery, sliced/chopped 1/2″ pieces
2 lb organic fingerling potatoes, unpeeled, cut to 1″ pieces
1 lb young green beans, fresh or frozen, whole or cut, but not frenched
12 oz young sweet corn kernels, fresh off the cob or frozen
1 lg poblano pepper, seeded and chopped fine (about 1/2 c)
3.5 lb roma tomatoes, cored, seeded, quartered
12 oz yellow crookneck squash (or other seasonal squash) sliced 1/4″
1 c pearled barley, rinsed

1/3 – 1/2 c Penzey’s Spices:  Old World Seasoning blend (more if needed)
1 t fresh ground (coarse) black pepper
1 t salt

optional veggies: (I didn’t use these because of guest preferences, but they will add their own spark):

1 c baby lima beans
1 leek, rinsed and sliced 1/4″ up to 2″ above the white
3 ounces of minced mushrooms of your choice (I like to use shitake w/ beef)


  • melt butter with olive oil in the bottom of a 10-12 qt soup pot.  Toss cubed beef in the oil, salt and pepper, and turn heat to med.  Saute until meat is cooked thoroughly — this will take about an hour.  The meat will give up a lot of its juices, and this water will cook off, leaving a thick, beefy, butter/oil mixture and med.-browned meat.
  • stir in 1/2 c Penzey’s Spices Old World Seasoning blend
  • add beef and chicken stock, bring to a boil
  • add veggies and barley to the pot, and stir to mix.  Return the pot to a boil, then cover — ALMOST completely.  leave about 10% of the pot uncovered by the lid.  This will allow some of the liquid to cook down and become thicker.
  • Simmer 90% covered for 2 1/2 -3 hrs., stirring every 1/2 hr.
  • Taste to see if you need to add more of the seasoning blend — I would add another 1-2 T at this point, because I like the stronger flavors.  Then cover, and simmer on low for an additional hour.  The longer the stew simmers –> the more melded the flavors become.
  • Just before serving, add 2 T REAL BUTTER.  Trust me.  This last-minute addition will brighten the flavor immensely.  This is such a lean stew over all, that for a pot this size, those 2 T of butter actually add less than 25 calories to each serving — and the trade-off is more than worth it.

Serve with hot fresh bread so you can get every drop!


1.  Use the best beef you can afford.  A lot of markets will sell you the cheapest, chewiest, most flavorless cuts made into stew meat because they know you are going to — well — STEW it.  Long, slow cooking will, in fact, tenderize almost anything.  But the better and fresher the ingredients — the better the finished product.  And on-the-cheap butchers tend to add extra injected water and red dyes to make meat appear fresher and MORE than you’re really getting for your money.  If you can’t afford 4 lbs of top sirloin — use 2 lbs.  It will still flavor the whole pot with the upgrade in quality.

Find the beef with no added growth hormones (they’re bad for US) or added antibiotics (they’re bad for the human race — they are so overused that we are causing bacteria to mutate into drug resistant strains every day!)  If we go ahead and buy the products that we can afford which make the case for healthier food-industry practices — the food industry will grow to meet our demands.

2.  I specified Penzey’s Spices for a reason — they really do sell the freshest and highest quality herbs and spices and blends in the US.  Any spice on your shelf for more than 2 years has lost so much of its flavor, color and texture that it’s practically worthless anyway — so just get rid of it and go with the fresh stuff.  You will be amazed by how much difference it makes.  And ALWAYS go for fresh spices on special occasions!

3.  Here’s the rule on buying organic fruits and veggies:  If it comes in its own natural and removable non-edible wrapper (like bananas, or pinto beans, or green peas) — buy the regular farms produce.  If we eat the skin, shell, or peel (apples, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, berries…) –> then spring for the organic alternative.  Easy to remember.  According to most experts — the highest concentrations of pesticides are found on apples, peaches, and potatoes.

4.  Take the time to cut up your veggies into a variety of sizes and shapes — it makes the soup more interesting!

5.  Use as much fresh (and as a last resort, frozen) produce as possible.  You’ll always get better flavor and texture.  AVOID canned veggies as much as possible.  In part because they’re just now doing research on the plastics/chemicals used to make the rust-resistant can liners (and it’s not looking good) — but also because the fresh stuff just tastes better!

6.  NEVER NEVER NEVER use fake butter, or “whipped with water” butter, or margarine, or Don’t Let Anybody Fool You into Believing This is Butter butter.  You get more flavor from a smudge of real butter than from a slather of the plasticized chemical imitations.  Better to go with the smudge than crap-load any day.  The fake stuff is never satisfying, and will ALWAYS make your food less satisfying and less tasty.  And less good for you. (The latest journals report that butter contains one of the best cancer fighters ever found!  So if flavor isn’t a good enough reason to stick to butter — maybe science will do it for you.)

Better a tiny bite of what’s really good, than a whole truckload of what’s really bad.  Or even moderately bad.


2 thoughts on “Christmas Beef Stew

  1. Pingback: True Blue Beef Stew | What's On the Stove?

  2. Pingback: ☘ Market District® | Beef & Guinness® Stew ☘ « Cookpendium

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s