Beefless Stew

This hearty stew has everything you used to love about beef stew but without the beef, including large chunks of potato, carrot, celery, and onion. Portabella mushrooms stand in for the beef. Garlic, paprika, and fresh rosemary provide excellent flavor. To avoid excess sodium, look for salt-free tomato paste, and salt- and sugar-free canned peas (if using).

1½ large yellow or white onions, chopped into ¾-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

3 ribs celery, cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 1 cup)

3 medium carrots, sliced lengthwise and cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 2¼ cups)

2 medium portabella mushrooms, cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

1½ tablespoons finely chopped garlic (about 6 medium cloves)

5 cups water

2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 6 cups)

1/3 cup tomato paste (half of a 6-ounce can)

1 tablespoon dried Italian herb seasoning

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

1½ cups cooked green peas (thaw first if frozen)

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of water in a soup pot over medium-high heat. When the water starts to sputter, add the onion, celery, and carrot, and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, adding water as needed to prevent sticking.

2. Stir in the mushrooms and garlic, and continue to cook while stirring for 5 minutes more, adding water as needed.

3. Add the water, potatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and paprika, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir in the rosemary. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the peas, and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the carrots and potatoes are tender.

5. Place 2 cups of the stew (broth and vegetables) into a blender, and blend until smooth. Stir this back into the pot to thicken the stew. Stir in the parsley.

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Cooking: 35 minutes

Serves: 6 to 8 (makes about 10 cups)