A vegetarian twist – but a delightfully delicious twist – on a classic stew, Vegetarian Irish Stew uses hearty, saucy lentils and authentic Guinness Stout to create a rich, flavorful dish (also, it’s vegan!).
The season of heavy foods is winding down (com’on, Spring!), but we can’t neglect our adopted Irish holiday, featuring green beer, festive parades with curly-topped Irish dancers, and, of course, a big bowl of Irish stew.
Did you know that the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah, Georgia, is second only to New York in scale and grandeur — not Boston or Chicago, but lovely Savannah! — and that it’s the culmination of their week-long celebration? I didn’t know myself, until I took a remote job with a company based in Georgia, who often closed the office on March 17th, lol.
I’m one quarter Irish, so, Erin Go Bragh! My own town with its strong German heritage skims over this celebration — we rock the Oktoberfest (World’s Largest Chicken Dance, y’all!) — so I’m usually left to my own devices if I want to get my Irish on.
I’m too much of an introvert for parades and dancing, so I do my celebrating from the kitchen.
Irish stew traditionally features frugal cuts of lamb or beef, but for us veggie lovers, lentils step in quite nicely. Rounded out with a generous helping of root vegetables and select seasonings, I’m confident going out on a limb and predicting that even carnivores will love this stew.
Serve it with a side of creamy mashed potatoes, and these quick-and-easy Skillet Irish Soda Bread Minis, and it’s got comfort-food dinner written all over it.
Speaking of beloved Irish traditions, beer lovers got some great news last year, when Guinness transitioned some of its facilities to use vegan processes.
The ingredients of beer are naturally vegan, however, many breweries use isinglass in the processing of their beers. Isinglass is a gelatin derived from the swim bladders of fish (for anyone thinking it had something to do with Lord of the Rings, like I might or might not have before looking it up, lol). It’s used as a clarifying agent in beer and wine.
So, I was more than happy to flavor-up my vegetarian Irish stew (it’s vegan too) with a generous pour of authentic Guinness Stout, which, like cooking with wine, adds an extra richness and flavor boost.
If you’re looking for a meatless option for St. Paddy’s Day festivities, I think you’ll find lentil stew a worthy replacement for the classic beefy stews. Go Green!
Vegetarian Irish Stew for Lentil Lovers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 1 medium potato diced (about one cup)
- 1 small turnip diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 large carrot diced
- 4 ounces mushrooms roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/3 cup Guinness beer (or your favorite)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste (1/4 cup)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sweet/mild miso (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 bayleaf
- 1 cup French green lentils (French du Puy lentils)
- Heat the olive oil or 2 Tbs broth in a 4 to 5 quart Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until translucent. Add the potatoes, turnips, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic, stir well and cover pot with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have given off some liquid.
- Scootch the vegetables to one side and tip the pot to pool liquids to the cleared area (or, if dry, add a splash of vegetable broth). Spoon the tomato paste into the liquid, and top with the smoked paprika. Stir to create a paste, and let cook until fragrant.
- Add a splash of vegetable broth to the pot, and sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Mix the tomato paste into the vegetables, and stir until the flour has disappeared into the vegetables. Add the beer, and let simmer, to cook off the alcohol.
- Add the remaining broth, miso, herbs, and lentils. When the stew begins to boil, reduce heat to maintain a gentle but active simmer (medium-low should do it). Cover partially with the lid, and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove bay leaf, and let stew rest on warm/low for 10 minutes before serving.
- Stew can be made ahead (even the day before). When rewarming, if the stew is too thick, add vegetable broth by the tablespoon until it reaches the consistency you prefer. Taste, and add salt for seasoning, if desired.
- For a winter comforting treat, serve with mashed potatoes.
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