When I was a kid, stew and dumplings was a staple and much-loved meal, and it’s still one of my favourite things to eat today. This hearty recipe makes the most of autumnal root vegetables, cooking down potato, carrot, and parsnip, as well as butter beans, into a thick, savoury stew. Top that with plump, golden, herb-stuffed suet dumplings (vegetable suet, of course), and there’s really nothing better on a cold, grey, rainy day.
Butter Bean and Root Vegetable Stew with Herby Dumplings
Preparation time: 2 hours (active time c. 1 hour)
4 tablespoons vegan butter
1 brown onion, diced
1 leek, sliced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, diced (no need to peel!)
2 parsnips, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tin butter beans, drained (c. 200g)
25g fresh sage, finely chopped
25g fresh parsley, finely chopped
25g fresh thyme, leaves removed
10g rosemary, leaves removed, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
3 teaspoons strong mustard
4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
330ml vegan beer
1.5 litres good-quality vegetable stock
100g vegetable suet
200g self-raising flour
250ml cold water
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Large saucepan or pot with lid
1./ Melt the butter in the saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add in the garlic, onion, and leek, along with the bay leaves, and fry until softened.
2./ Add in the celery and carrot and fry these for a further three or four minutes, stirring as you do. Then do the same again with the potato and parsnip.
3./ Add in the butter beans, then pour in the beer and stock. Add the mustard, nutritional yeast, a little salt and black pepper, and around a half of the chopped herbs.
4./ Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for at least an hour, or till reduced and thickened. Keep an eye on the heat and stir occasionally.
5./ Season again to taste - I like plenty of black pepper - and remove the bay leaves.
6./ Mix up the dumplings. Combine the flour, suet, a pinch of salt, and the remaining herbs in a large mixing bowl. Stir in some cold water, a tablespoon at a time, bringing together the dough gently with your hands. You will probably need less water than stated above. Just try and judge the feel of the dough as you mix; you want a firm but pliable texture.
7./ Form the dough into around 12 roughly even balls and drop gently onto the top of the simmering stew. Cover the pan and simmer for a further 20 minutes. To brown the dumpling tops, remove the lid and finish in a hot oven, or put briefly under a hot grill.
8./ Serve topped with a sprinkling of herbs or some extra black pepper.