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Using Vegetables to Thicken Soups and Stews

When I look at food these days the colours amaze me. Everything is so bright, unnaturally bright.

When I look at food these days the colours amaze me. Everything is so bright, unnaturally bright. The foods I prepared had none of this brightness, mainly because there weren’t any additives in it, no artificial colours and flavourings. Of course, not all food these days is bright because of these additives, some are perked up by the addition of out of season fruits and vegetables, something else that never happened in my day.

Take a traditional stew for example. Usually, it was cooked in winter as it makes a substantial and hearty meal on a cold day. All it would have in it were the root vegetables that were available, whatever meat we had to go in it and a little suet and flour for the dumplings. It would be cooked for hours and hours letting all the natural flavours of the meat and veg combine in the pot. Even the thickening was made from vegetables.

Vegetable thickening is a very old fashioned way of thickening soups and stews so they are less like lumps of meat and veg floating in a clear broth and more of a combined meal.

Making the thickening is very simple. Just boil up a mixture of the veg you are using in a little water until they are almost pulped. Add a couple of chopped potatoes to the pan towards the end of cooking and let them cook down as well. Mash or puree the lumps and it’s ready to thicken your stew.

My family uses this even today, putting a few spoons into a modern gravy to fool the kids who won’t eat their veggies…it works a treat. The children get their vitamins poured onto their food in a form they are familiar with and they eat it all with no fuss at all. Edith and I always have a supply of our ‘enriched gravy’ in ice cube trays in the freezer. That way, a simple meal like that is light on veggies for whatever reason gets a bit of a boost when it’s on the plate.

I mentioned dumplings earlier, do you have dumplings in America? They are a very simple addition to make. I use two tablespoons of shredded suet and four tablespoons of self-raising flour. Mix with a little cold water to form a pliable dough and then roll small pieces into balls. Put them in the stew before you thicken it. Simmer for 20 minutes, add the thickening and you’re done. simple isn’t it?

Well, I have to go to the school today, our craft club has restarted so I’d better get a move on. Love to you and yours,




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This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on January 22nd, 2015