This hearty vegan stew uses tender portobello mushrooms in place of meat, along with potatoes and veggies simmered in a savory herbed red wine broth. You won’t miss the meat in this hearty vegan version of classic beef stew!
I’m all about vegan comfort food recipes this winter, and this stew is no exception. This stew was super cozy and delicious, and this is coming from someone who didn’t even like beef stew in her omnivore days!
I think it was the beef part that I didn’t like, because a bowl of steaming hot potatoes, veggies, and in this case, portobello mushrooms (in lieu of beef) in a savory red wine broth sounds pretty much like heaven to me.
In addition to the herbs you’d normally find in beef stew (rosemary and thyme), I included a few ingredients to give it a savory flavor that might otherwise be lacking.
One of the key ingredients to getting a super savory beef-stewy flavor out of this dish is Marmite. I hesitated to include this in the recipe, because I know lots of people will have to seek it out or order it online, so I made it optional.
What is Marmite? you may be asking. Marmite is a spread made from yeast extract. It has a very intense savory flavor. Some folks are fond of eating in toast (something I haven’t been brave enough to try yet). It’s totally vegan and great for adding flavor to recipes. It’s an optional but highly recommended ingredient in this one.
Liquid smoke is also optional in this recipe. I find it to be a pretty polarizing ingredient: some of us love it, some hate it! I’m one of those that love it, and I find it to be great for adding smoky, savory flavor to vegan recipes. If you hate it, leave it out. If you’re not sure or have never tried it before, proceed with caution: just add a drop or two to your stew at a time and see what you think of the flavor.
Always keep in mind that with liquid smoke, a little bit goes a long way!
A great cook once told me never to add water to a recipe where I could instead add wine. I think that was pretty good advice. In this recipe red wine adds richness and intensity to the stew.
All of the alcohol should cook off if you let your stew simmer for the right amount of time. If you prefer to cook without alcohol, just leave the wine out.
How to Make Vegan Beef Stew
Start by heating up some oil in a large pot. Once the oil is hot, add your mushrooms. You’ll want to let them sit and cook for a few minutes to achieve some browning. Then flip them and let them cook a few minutes more.
Veggies go in next! Add some onion, celery, and carrot. Sweat the veggies for a few minutes until they begin to soften up. Now add some garlic and let it cook for just a minute or so.
Flour is our thickener for this soup, and that’s what will go in next. Sprinkle a bit of flour in at a time, stirring between each addition until it coats the veggies. Cook and stir the veggie and flour mixture for about a minute.
Now start adding broth, a bit at a time, making sure to stir and eliminate any lumps before the next addition. Once all the broth has been added, you can stir in some potato and herbs. Raise the heat and bring the stew to a boil.
Lower the heat and let the stew simmer until the potatoes are just tender. Now stir in some red wine, tomato paste, and marmite. Let the stew simmer until the veggies are very tender, the broth is thick, and all of the alcohol has cooked off (taste-test for this).
When the stew has finished simmering, take it off of the burner and season it with salt, pepper, and liquid smoke, if desired.
Vegan Stew FAQ & Tips
- This stew keeps well and the leftovers are great! Store them in a sealed container in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.
- Feel free to add veggies! It occurred to me just before I photographed this stew that peas would be a great addition. Try thawing some frozen peas and stirring them in during the last minute of cooking. You could also add some greens like spinach or kale, and let them simmer in the stew until they wilt.
- Can this stew be made gluten-free? I’m not sure, but I suspect cornstarch or arrowroot would be a good substitute for the flour. Make a slurry with either ingredient in some cold water and start pouring it in, just a bit at a time, when the stew is almost done. Continue adding your thickener unil the stew is as thick as you’d like it.
- Is there a substitute for the wine? You can simply leave it out if you prefer. Add some extra broth if the stew needs extra liquid, and a tablespoon or two more of tomato paste if the flavor is lacking.
- Want to add some protein to your stew? Try my beef-flavored seitan.
- Not all red wine is vegan. Check with Barnivore to ensure yours is!
Portobello Vegan Beef(less) Stew
This hearty vegan stew uses tender portobello mushrooms in place of meat, along with potatoes and veggies simmered in a savory herbed red wine broth. You won't miss the meat in this hearty vegan version of classic beef stew!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound portobello or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1 to 2 inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1-2 teaspoons Marmite (optional, but highly recommended for savory flavor)
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, or to taste (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place it over medium heat.
Give the oil a minute to heat up, then add the mushrooms in an even layer. Let them cook for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottoms. Flip and cook for about 5 minutes more, until softened.
Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook everything until veggies begin to tenderize, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Sprinkle in the flour, a bit at a time, stirring between additions to form a coating on the veggies. Cook the veggies and flour for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Begin adding the broth, a bit at a time, stirring to eliminate any lumps that form from the flour. When all of the broth has been added, stir in the potatoes, thyme, and rosemary.
Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. Lower the heat and allow it to simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are just tender but still a bit undercooked, about 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
Stir in the red wine, tomato paste and Marmite. Bring the stew back to a simmer. Allow the stew to simmer for about another 20 minute, stirring occasionally, until the broth is thick and the veggies are very tender.
Remove the pot from heat and season the stew with liquid smoke, salt and pepper.
Ladle into bowls and serve.
This is an older recipe from 2016 that I updated in 2020. If you made it before the update, you may have noticed that the instructions have changed a bit. In the original version I had you adding the wine and letting it reduce before adding the flour. I discovered recently that potatoes cook up softer and faster in the absence of wine, which is why it goes in later now. Feel free to stick with the original process if you prefer - just add the wine between steps 3 and 4, and let it simmer for 4 or 5 minutes to reduce.