Our first year married, we were living in Georgia and wanted to make a fun meal to “celebrate” St. Patrick’s Day, although neither of us are Irish despite the Godfather’s skin color and freckles after 5 minutes in the sun. We heard about the celebrations in Savannah and dying the river green, but the drunken bar scene is far from being our thing and we wanted a low key alternative we could just do at home. So we looked for recipes, but corned beef is expensive around this time of year! Seriously. And on a “just starting out” budget that was not happening. Stew beef on the other hand, some fresh vegetables, and a 6-pack of Guiness, we could do that. Those ingredients are far more versatile than corned beef, this soup is a meal on its own, and I could use the Guiness to make what would become my famous “Irish Delight” (aka “car bomb”, cupcakes) with leftovers for the Godfather to drink! We found out when we moved to California word of my cupcakes preceded our arrival. 😉
The trick to getting a really good rich stew is to brown your meat (it looks nicer and helps lock in flavor), and then let all the ingredients simmer together an hour and a half to two hours so the meat is fall-apart tender and the flavors have had time to blend. In a pinch, I’ve also made this in my slow cooker. I brown the meat and then place it in the slow cooker with the other ingredients and let it cook all day over low, or 3-4 hours on high.
Some variations I’ve made over the years include omitting the tomato paste. The soup tastes great without it, so if you don’t like a slight tomato flavor, don’t worry about it. I’ve also added potatoes some years in addition to the other vegetables. This year I didn’t because I planned to freeze a portion for later, and I don’t like frozen potatoes in soup. So feel free to add your own spin. I think the soup may even taste good with a different protein, or none at all as the flavor is really based on the broth. You can also substitute any stout beer you have on hand. You don’t have to worry about alcohol if you’re serving this to kids because the long cooking time gives it time to evaporate away.
So may your troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness pass through your door!
- 2.5 lbs stew beef
- 3 tbsp avocado or other vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 12-oz bottle of Guinness or other stout beer
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 2 cups diced celery
- 8 ounces chopped mushrooms
- 1 cup broth (I used beef)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- In a mixing bowl, toss the beef with the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika to coat.
- Heat the oil in a large stock pot over high heat until just starting to smoke, then dump all the meat in to brown.
- Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring twice, until the meat pieces have a nice brown color on both sides. You can do this in batches to get a more even brown on each piece, but I just browned all the meat at once.
- While the meat is browning, chop any vegetables you haven't already cut and set aside until the meat is browned.
- When the meat has sufficiently browned, lower the heat to medium-high and pour in ½ the bottle of Guinness and let it cook for 1-2 minutes so the beef absorbs some of the beer's flavor. Then add your vegetables and let cook an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the rest of the beer, the tomato paste, and stock.
- Cover, reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer 1.5-2 hours until the meat is fully cooked and very tender.
- Serve warm.