Originally I was going to make this a chicken veggie stew, but it didn't really need the chicken- plus I was hungry. (I am the best chef ever!) So I roasted a chicken thigh, with bone and skin on, and all I ended up adding to the soup was the schmaltz. (Chicken fat, for goys.)
I love this stew because it turned out perfect, because it's lovely and warm and perfect for fall, and because it's easy to alter to one's taste- e.g., add chicken, use bacon fat, veganize it, whatever you want. The only "problem" I had with this was that it's really just begging for a hunk of fresh homemade bread to go with, and that's just not happening right now.
So let's get to it!
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, coined
1 red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 oz mushrooms, minced. (I used an "earthy and exotic mix" starring crimini, shittake and oyster mushrooms, some of which I had never encountered before. Manager's Specials are a great way to meet new foods!)
A hunk of butter (oh, all right, 2 or 3 Tbsp. I used butter because I was really going for the comfort food feel- olive oil or coconut oil would work just as well.)
1 sweet potato, roasted, skin removed
Chicken broth to cover (Obviously you can sub vegetable broth here.)
Pan drippings from one roast chicken thigh (optional)
1 Tbsp Frank's Red Hot
2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425. Roast sweet potato(skin on), and if you choose, a chicken thigh, for 45 minutes to an hour. In separate pans, preferably. This will give you time to do all the veggie chopping.
I sauteed the rest of the veggies on medium high in the butter(in a huge pan!) for a few minutes- just long enough to get that nutty butter smell and start wringing flavor molecules out of the savories. (You may prefer to sautee part of the veggies at a time- that is certainly a respectable choice. The way I did it, it wound up more like sweating the veggies. I'm no great sauteer.) I kept stirring it and flipping it and generally not letting any one bit sit on the bottom too long.
Dump sauteed veggies into a pot and put in enough broth to not quite cover. Everything should be wet, but veggies should be peeking up at you still. Turn that to a boil, give it a good stir, and turn it back down to a simmer.
Add thyme and hot sauce.
When the sweet potato comes out of the oven, de-skin it, mash it and stick it in the pot. If you're using the chicken drippings, dump those in when the chicken thigh is done. Stir well!
Add salt and pepper. Allow stew to simmer for an hour, covered.
Serve, and laugh at the chilly weather outside!