We all love our soups in the winter, but sometimes you need something just a little bit heartier and more filling. Sometimes you need a stew.
Thirty or more years ago, “stew” to most Americans meant mainly meat and potatoes. Seasonings were simple, not much beyond salt and pepper. And there may have been some other vegetables, particularly onion and carrots, but not much else.
Times have changed though, and our wealth of available ingredients and love of ethnic flavors have greatly expanded our idea of stews.
Here are a few recipes that still fit the bill for hearty, rib-sticking fare while venturing beyond the plain-Jane, meat-and-potatoes model.
If you want a meaty beef stew, try the recipe for boeuf a la Gardiane, which appears in “Milk Street: The New Rules” by Christopher Kimball (Voracious). The recipe comes from the south of France, and it beefs up the usual beef stew with the addition of olives and orange juice. Olives combine with garlic and a bit of anchovies (don’t worry — no one will be able to tell) to create a distinctive, complex savory flavor balanced by a touch of fruity brightness that comes from the orange. Carrots, onions and red bell peppers round out the dish.
If chicken is your protein of choice, try the Moroccan chicken stew made with chicken cooked in a tomato sauce with a mixture of cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. There are a few dates added to complete the spicy-sweet picture, and the whole thing is served over quinoa.
This recipe from Rachel Beller’s “Power Spicing” (Clarkson Potter) also has a vegetarian option to replace the chicken with chickpeas.
Chickpeas take center stage in a similar stew from Michael Symon, one of the hosts of “The Chew.” His latest book is “Fix It With Food” (Clarkson Potter), and it takes a similar approach as “Power Spicing,” offering recipes full of health benefits that can help people deal with inflammation and autoimmune issues.
Symon’s chickpea, kale and tomato stew is flavored with a good dose of curry powder and fresh ginger, as well as jalapeno and garlic. Spinach or other greens can stand in for the kale as needed, but you may need to adjust the cooking time.
Also on the healthful side is the Thai broccoli fish stew from Mark Hyman, a doctor and the author of “Food: What the Heck Should I Cook?” (Little, Brown). Salmon is Hyman’s fish of choice for this dish.
The Thai red curry paste — available in the international sections of most supermarkets — along with ginger and garlic “are excellent for promoting circulation and increasing thermogenesis, which produces heat in the body and can even lead to a boost in fat burning,” Hyman said.
That sounds like just what the doctor ordered for a cold winter’s day.