Vegan Brewer’s Stew
I’m currently perched on the ceramic-tiled terrace of my new and temporary home at a hostel in the beautiful city of Guanajuato, Mexico. After two weeks of bittersweet goodbyes (and not to mention countless coffees, beers, and goodbye cakes) with my students, colleagues, and friends in Guadalajara, I packed up and took a four-hour bus to this charming colonial mining town. This month I am working in the kitchen of this beautiful hostel in exchange for room and board. The hostel is family run, and mom, Irene (“ee-ray-nay”), serves up a healthy, traditional, and insanely delicious Mexican breakfast every morning to her guests. I am so very humbled and sickeningly happy to be helping her in the kitchen this month. More on her and the hostel soon!
This week it’s been my pleasure to prepare the big afternoon meal, or la comida, for the family and myself after all the prepping, cleaning, and siesta-ing is done. We gather together around 4pm for a meal before everyone splits for their evening duties and activities. So the other day I threw together an adaptation of this recipe, Vegan Brewer’s Stew, to introduce them to some of my favorite fall flavors that are bursting with nutrition. I made the original stew back in July, but it seemed wildly inappropriate to post a rich, thick stew in the midst of that torturous summer heat. So here it is now, the original recipe for this delightful stew that fed and nourished me for an entire week.
After reading countless articles on the benefits of Brewer’s Yeast, I had to try it out. It has a very complimentary flavor to the sweetness of the veggies in this stew, but it may not favored by all. It can easily be omitted from the recipe, although the nutritional value will decrease.
A Note on Brewer’s Yeast
Used for years as a nutritional supplement, Brewer’s Yeast is a fungus (Saccharomyces cervisiae) used to make beer and some types of breads. As a nutritional supplement it is one of the best sources of B Vitamins (minus B12), protein, selenium, chromium, zinc, potassium and iron. In fact, two tablespoons of Brewer’s Yeast yields 16 grams of protein, 6g of fiber, 80% of the daily value of thiamin (vitamin B1), 90% of riboflavin (B2), 50% of niacin (B1), 40% of vitamin B6, 15% of folic acid (B9), and other essential B-complex vitamins. B-complex vitamins aid in the breakdown of foods, strengthen the nervous sytem, and keep skin, hair, eyes, mouth and liver healthy. Brewer’s Yeast also helps regulate blood sugar levels, controls weight, and strengthens the immune system. If the taste isn’t for you, Brewer’s Yeast is also available in capsule-form.(Sources: University of Maryland , and Self Nutrition Data)
Vegan Brewer’s Stew
1 White Onion
4 Tablespoons Coconut Oil(or olive oil)
4 Garlic Cloves
2 Cups Dried Lentils
½ Cup Brewer’s Yeast
3 Cups Veggie Broth
1 Large Sweet Potato
1 Large Plantain
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon Cumin
2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
4 Cups Water
The first step is to get the lentils cooking. Throw a few cloves of garlic or serrano chiles in there if you want a little heat or extra garlic in the mix. It never hurts. While the lentils get their cook on, sauté the minced onions and leeks in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (or olive oil) in medium dutch oven until transparent, then add minced garlic until soft.
Next, add sweet potatoes, lower heat, and cover. When sweet potatoes are almost cooked through, add diced plantains. Since they are so soft already, they don’t need much time to cook through. They can be thrown in at any time in the process, however they might disappear in the mix.
Next, in a sauté pan, heat remaining coconut oil (or olive) on medium heat. With brewer’s yeast, vegetable broth, and a whisk at hand, prepare to create a roux-like mix for the soup. Adding a couple of tablespoons of brewer’s yeast at a time followed by splashes of vegetable broth, whisk together in pan until all ingredients are incorporated and a thin paste remains. Turn off heat and add mix to vegetables in the dutch oven. Add spices and combine.
Add cooked lentils to pot and additional water. Soup will thicken as it sits, however more water or vegetable stock can always be added later on. Simmer on low for 30 minutes, stirring constantly. Top with cilantro and coconut milk. Enjoy!