Food Friday: Irish Stew

In the spirit of St. Patricks Day I want to share this "Irish" Stew recipe, which might not be a pot of gold...but pretty close! 

I think soups and stews are my favourite meals. They are hard to mess up, you get all the nutrients you need in one bowl and its a great go to meal you can prepare ahead of time. So when I'm craving a good healthy hearty stew I lean towards this one by chef Michael Smith, which definitely wins points from my sister!

Let's talk about why this stew is so good:

First of all the meat - Although I do not eat red meat often, a healthy dose of it periodically has its benefits. This stew is made with beef, however a typical irish stew is made with lamb. For those of us low in iron (one reason you may be so tired all the time ladies!), lamb is an excellent source. Beef however is still up there (as well as black beans and molasses). Note: Try to choose organic meats so the benefits aren't shadowed by the unnecessary chemicals and additives.

beef stew ingredients.JPG

Rosemary - A flavourful spice that is great for your circulation, brain, digestive system...the list goes on. It can be added to a tea or supplement or used as an essential oil, for those suffering from poor memory or concentration, headaches or stress. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Veggies - There is a colourful collection in this stew, which we know is important in a well balanced diet. Most are root veggies, which are plentiful this time of year, so be sure to hit up your local market. 

Let's not forgot red wine - Adds flavour and you also get some benefits of its antioxidants, resveratrol in particular, that are helpful in inflammation and for the heart. 

In traditional chinese medicine (one of my favourite modalities to use with my patients), Sp Qi deficiency is one of the most common patterns, and often the first to occur. It can be caused by too much worry, stress or improper diet (typically cold, raw and damp foods). Symptoms include fatigue, bloating, weak limbs and loose stools (sound familiar anyone?) but can lead to many issues down the road. Sp Qi deficiency needs warm foods to heal, both in temperature and food energy. Examples of warm foods are meat (especially red meat) and most spices and that is why this stew is perfect. 

So without further ado...the stew: 


2 pounds stewing beef (or lamb for that extra kick of iron)
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly grated pepper 
a splash any vegetable oil (grapeseed is good at this heat)
a few carrots, peeled and roughly chopped 
a few stalks celery, roughly chopped 
a few potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped 
few parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped 
a few onions, peeled and roughly chopped 
a 28 ounce can whole tomatoes 
1/2 bottle hearty red wine 
3 or 4 cups homemade or canned beef broth 
a few bay leaves 
few sprigs fresh rosemary 
1 jar pickled baby white onions, drained 
few handfuls frozen peas 
another sprinkle or two of salt and pepper 


Preheat a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, pat the beef dry with a clean towel and then cut it into large cubes and season it with the salt and pepper.

Add a splash of oil to the pot—enough to cover the bottom in a thin layer—and toss in enough meat to form a single sizzling layer. Sear the meat on every side until it’s evenly browned. 

From chef Michael Smith

From chef Michael Smith

Be patient when you’re browning the meat; it takes a little time but it’s worth every minute. The caramelized flavours are the secret to a rich hearty stew. As the meat browns, remove it from the pan, adding more oil and meat as needed. 

Once the meat is done, discard the remaining oil but keep all the browned bits in the pan; they’ll add lots of flavour to the stew. 
Add half of the vegetables—reserving the other half—and all the meat back to the pot. Add the tomatoes and enough wine and beef broth to barely cover the works. Add the bay leaves and rosemary and bring the pot to a simmer. 

Continue cooking until the meat is almost tender, about 1 hour, then add the remaining vegetables, the baby onions and the frozen peas. Adding the vegetables in 2 batches allows the first batch to dissolve into the stew while the second retains its shape, colour and texture. Continue simmering until the meat and veggies are tender, another 30 minutes or so. When the stew is tender, taste it and season as you like. (From


In health and happiness,

Dr. Karen