Special Occasion Soybean Stew

This is the stew to end all stews.  It has lots of different textures, tons of umami, a variety of oven-roasted vegetables and a thick and delectable gravy: perfect for that extra-special occasion.

Here’s the catch.  It’s a whole lot of work.  And while it’s worth every minute of it, expect a cooking marathon since this recipe uses numerous different techniques to draw the best out of every ingredient.  Of which there are a lot… so also expect a trip to the grocery and/or farmer’s market.  However, if you want to impress your loved ones or really indulge yourself, then put on some good music, dance around the kitchen and create this masterpiece.

Yield: 16 cups, 8-10 servings

What you need:

  • 1-1/2 cups dry soybeans (organic, non-GMO)
  • 7 bay leaves
  • a 2” piece of kombu seaweed
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1 oz dried Chanterelle mushrooms (Lobster mushroom is another good choice)
  • 1/4 cup dried goldenberries (Physalis peruviana or Peruvian groundcherry, optional but recommended)
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated, drained and chopped
  • 1-1/2 lb tomatoes, peeled and chopped, 4 cups
  • 14 oz onions, about 12 golf-ball sized ones, peeled and quartered
  • 1 lb parsnip, peeled and thickly (1/3”) sliced on an angle, 1-1/2 cups
  • 12 oz carrots, thickly (1/3”) sliced on an angle, 2-1/2 cups
  • 12 oz yellow beets, halved or quartered depending on size and thickly (1/3”) sliced, 3 cups
  • 1 lb red kuri or kabocha squash, cored and sliced into thin (1/2”) wedges, each wedge cut in half
  • 8 oz tempeh, cubed (3/4” dice)
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a large sprig of each fresh rosemary and sage, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white Belgian ale (or more unsalted veggie broth)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Kuzu or non-GMO cornstarch

What you do:

  1. Place the dry soybeans in large bowl and cover with water by 3” or 4”.  Let soak at least 12 hours, preferably 24, changing the water once or twice during the soaking period.
  2. Drain the beans and place in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot and cover with fresh water to cover by 3” or 4” and add the bay leaves and Kombu.  Bring to pressure (15 lb) or run the ”bean” cycle and cook for 30-40 minutes allowing a natural pressure release once the cooking cycle is complete.  Given how long soybeans take to cook, a pressure cooker is highly recommended.  If stovetop cooking, bring the beans and water to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for a couple of hours at least.
  3. Peel and chop the tomatoes while the beans cook.  Set aside.
  4. Drain the cooked beans and set aside, removing the bay leaves and kombu.
  5. Heat the 4 cups of vegetable broth in a small pot.  When hot, add the dried mushrooms, goldenberries and chopped (rehydrated) sun-dried tomatoes.  Cover, turn off the heat and let it sit while you prepare the vegetables.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  7. Cut and chop all the vegetables (with the exception of the garlic and tomatoes), placing them in an oven-safe 11”x17” or oversize deep-dish 9”x13” glass or enamel baking dish.  Add the diced tempeh, the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of  the salt and a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper.  Mix well (hands work great) to coat everything in the oil and to distribute the salt and pepper.                      DSCN1691                                   DSCN1695.JPG
  8. Put the two heads of garlic on a small oven-safe plate and place in the oven.  Place the baking dish full of veggies in the oven too, and roast for 30 minutes.  Remove the garlic from the oven and set aside to cool.  Toss everything else around and roast another 15 minutes.
  9. While the vegetables finish roasting, press the soft and mushy roasted garlic cloves out of their papery husks and mix them into the soaking broth-mushroom-goldenberry-sun-dried tomato mix.
  10. Remove the baking dish from the oven, add the cooked soybeans, tomatoes, broth mixture and remaining tablespoon of salt and mix well.  Mix carefully as the dish will probably be quite full.
  11. Lower the oven heat to 375F, return the dish to the oven (uncovered), and bake for an hour or so, until the mixture is bubbly and the liquid reduced a bit.  Stir once or twice during the hour.
  12. Toward the end of the baking period, whisk the ale or broth (cold is fine) with the kuzu or cornstarch to form a smooth slurry.  Remove the baking dish, add the slurry and mix well.  Return it to the oven to simmer for another 5 or 10 minutes, until thickened to taste.                                                                            DSCN1700
  13. Let sit at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

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