What could be more homely than a hearty vegan stew made with nourishing vegetables and delicious smoked tofu? To me, this vegan version of a traditional beef stew is the ultimate comfort food. It's also great for entertaining since you can make it in advance and re-heat it on the day. With such rich flavours, everyone will love it, even the most avid meat-eaters! Oh, and did I mention that it’s gluten-free as well? What’s not to love?
Seriously, I think this is the best stew I have ever made! It came as a complete surprise to me when I threw it together one day just to avoid feeling left out when the rest of my family were eating Irish stew! My husband tasted mine and agreed that it really did taste as good as their beef stew!
I used to make traditional beef stew for my family but always hated the arduous task of browning the meat in batches. Vegan stew is SO much easier to make and so much more rewarding because of it! It still has the same delicious rich flavour but without the fuss, without the meat, and with even more healthy vegetables!
Why You Will Love This Vegan Stew!
- Nourishing comfort food with rich flavours and simple ingredients.
- With just a little prep, you can leave it slowly bubbling away on the stove while you go and do something else.
- So tasty and similar in flavour to meat stew that even little kids and avid meat-eaters have loved this dish!
- Easy to make ahead and reheat when needed. (Good for batch-cooking and saving a portion in the freezer for another day).
- Gluten-free and vegan (of course 😁).
All in all, this vegan stew is a great option for a hearty meal on cold nights.
- Smoked tofu – this adds a wonderful smokiness resembling the bacon flavour in meat stews. You can of course use regular tofu instead which will be absolutely fine. If you are going to use regular tofu, use firm or extra firm tofu that has been pressed. If you are really not keen on tofu, you can substitute this with any type of beans or chickpeas instead.
- Dried forest or wild mushrooms – I like using these because I can keep them in my cupboard ready for whenever I need them. When you rehydrate them in boiling water, they create a delicious mushroom broth that adds fantastic depth of flavour to vegan dishes.
- Vegetables – I like to use onion, garlic, carrots, celery, courgette (zucchini), cauliflower (optional as it does go soft) and celeriac for my vegetables. Use a little of each so that each mouthful has a variety and it doesn’t become boring to eat. Stew is a great way to clear out the vegetable drawer in your fridge as you can use whichever vegetables you have to hand. Root vegetables (like carrot, parsnip, beetroot, etc) work better in stews than softer vegetables like broccoli (which would overcook). If you are not a fan of celeriac, you can substitute with potato instead. Don’t be tempted to add too much cauliflower though as its flavour can be quite overpowering especially when cooked for a long time.
- Herbs – bay leaves and thyme sprigs add the herbal element here. If you have fresh thyme, that’s great, but you can use dried thyme instead if that’s all you have. Substitute 1 tablespoon of dried thyme.
- Vegetable broth – powdered stock that you add water to is perfect. Alternatively, I have found a vegan “beef” stock that really works well in this stew! It gives a wonderful rich flavour that’s very similar to real beef stew. If you are cooking for meat-eaters or missing meat yourself, this is a good way to trick the taste buds with a vegan “beef” stew!
- Red wine – totally optional but I like the depth of flavour it adds. Note that the alcohol is boiled off so it is non-alcoholic.
- Tamari – this is a naturally gluten-free type of soy sauce. You can use coconut aminos or gluten-free soy sauce instead if you prefer.
- Cornstarch – the stew is thickened with a cornstarch slurry. Basically, you just mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a little water and mix it to a thin liquid consistency then pour it into the stew and stir over the heat until it thickens up.
- Optional extras – you could also add:
- a touch of miso (for its yummy umami flavour); or
- a splash of liquid smoke (to deepen the smoky flavour or replicate smokiness if you didn’t use smoked tofu); or
- a little squeeze of tomato paste (if you want to add a rich tomato background flavour).
In the UK, we normally include Worcestershire sauce in a stew but sadly it’s not gluten-free so just be aware of that if you can’t eat gluten (like me!).
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full list of ingredients and their quantities.
How To Make This Recipe
- First re-hydrate the mushrooms by soaking them in a jug of boiling water.
- Then chop all the vegetables into chunks.
- Next, pour some olive oil in a large pot (a casserole or dutch oven is best) and sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the carrot, celery and courgette (zucchini) and continue to sauté for around 3 minutes until slightly browned.
- Add the rest of the ingredients (except the cornstarch slurry), including the soaked mushrooms and the sieved soaking water and stir it all together. Put the lid on and simmer gently for an hour.
- Make the cornstarch slurry by mixing the cornstarch with the water in a little cup, then pour it into the stew. Stir over the heat until thickened. Cornstarch can be a little tricky to work with as it cooks so quickly that it can go lumpy if you don't stir it enough. Please see the tips for thickening gravy with cornstarch in this red wine jus post if you want more advice on this.
This is a summary only. Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this page for full instructions.
- For all stews, cut the vegetables into chunks so that they do not fall apart during cooking.
- You want to cut all the vegetables into similar shaped pieces so that no one vegetable dominates the plate.
This vegan vegetable stew is the perfect recipe for a lovely warming, homely meal. Serve it with rice, potatoes or just some lovely crusty bread to mop up all that delicious sauce! Spice it up with a dollop of zhoug if you want a little fiery kick!
- For a dinner party, serve this stew with vegan boulangere potatoes and some steamed broccoli or green beans.
- For low-carb fans, serve this stew with cauliflower rice instead.
- It would also make a wonderful Sunday lunch dish or a vegan alternative to a meat stew at a party, since it is easy to make in a big batch in advance and warm up when needed.
Making Ahead & Storage
Stews are wonderful for making ahead. As with curries, their flavour improves over time. So, although delicious on the day its made, this vegan stew is even better the next day!
This stew will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Just gently re-heat when you’re ready for it.
Yes! Just do the sautéing in the IP on the sauté function and then when you add in the rest of the ingredients, turn it on to high pressure for 20 minutes (instead of simmering on the stove for an hour). Once it’s ready, do a natural pressure release for 10 minutes then quick pressure release. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning to your liking, then press the sauté function again before adding the cornstarch slurry and stirring on the heat until it thickens. If there is too much liquid and it has not thickened enough (since it does not lose any water through evaporation like it would while simmering on the stove for an hour), you can just add more cornstarch slurry.
Yes! Brown the vegetables first by following the instructions but then instead of adding all the ingredients into the pan, you can pour all the ingredients into the slow cooker and leave it on high for 1 ½ hours or low for 4 hours. Once it has cooked, you will need to add the cornstarch slurry while it is bubbling so either turn on to high and wait for it to bubble (fast simmer) before adding the cornstarch or transfer to a pan over the stove for the thickening.
There are of course carbs in the root vegetables in this stew. However, as stews go, it is fairly low carb since there are no potatoes in this vegan stew.
Yes. I made this in small portions originally as it was just for me but now my family all like it, they've given up on their beef stew and I cook double the quantity in the recipe card to feed the whole family. You could even make a really large batch to freeze some for future meals.
📖 Recipe 📖
Hearty Vegan Stew with Smoked Tofu & Vegetables
- 30 g dried forest or wild mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, cut into chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 carrot, cut into chunks
- 1 celery stick, thickly sliced
- ½ courgette (zucchini), cut into chunks
- ¼ cauliflower (optional), cut into chunks
- ¼ celeriac (celery root), cut into cubes
- 225 g smoked tofu, cubed
- 250 ml vegetable stock, or vegan “beef” stock
- 100 ml red wine
- 1 tablespoon tamari (or coconut aminos or GF soy sauce)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- salt and black pepper
- Place the mushrooms into a jug and pour 500ml boiling water over them. Leave to soak for 15 minutes.30 g dried forest or wild mushrooms
- Heat the oil in a casserole or wide sauté pan or skillet. Sauté the onion in the oil for 5 minutes until browned. Then add the garlic and stir over the heat for a further 1 minute.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves
- Add the carrot, celery and courgette and sauté for 3 minutes until slightly browned.1 carrot, 1 celery stick, ½ courgette (zucchini)
- Add the rest of the ingredients except the cornstarch and water. Sieve the mushroom soaking water into the pan then spoon in the mushrooms from the sieve (be careful not to drop them straight in from the sieve or you will get all the grit from the mushroom water that you carefully sieved out).Stir well, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and put the lid on. Simmer gently for 1 hour.¼ cauliflower (optional), ¼ celeriac (celery root), 225 g smoked tofu, 250 ml vegetable stock, 100 ml red wine, 1 tablespoon tamari (or coconut aminos or GF soy sauce), 1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
- Remove the herbs. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Once the taste is to your liking, stir the cornstarch with a little water until it goes to a thin liquid. Turn the heat up on the casserole to medium heat. Add the cornstarch liquid and stir into the casserole. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened.1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon water
- Serve with potatoes or rice and some chopped herbs to garnish.
- For stews, you want to chop the vegetables into quite large chunks so that they hold their shape during the longer cooking time.
- If you are not gluten-free, you could of course thicken the stew in the normal way with all purpose flour rather than cornstarch but I'd recommend giving this a try as you may well prefer the lightness of cornstarch thickened sauces.
- When adding the cornstarch slurry, you need to stir really well since it cooks very quickly and can cook into gel-like lumps if you don't immediately stir it into the sauce and keep stirring over the heat until it thickens to your liking.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
If you like this hearty vegan beef stew recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free family-friendly recipes too: