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crock-pot-beef-stewThere’s a special time of year up here in Minnesota where the kitchen and the weather share a negative correlation. As the temperature drops, the frequency in which I consume soups, stocks, stews and the like dramatically increases. It’s officially winter now and my go to method for hot, brothy goodness is the slow cooker. Few things please me more than waltzing through the door, after a night of coaching, and remembering that a meal has already been prepped in advance.

One of my favorite soups is Beef Stew. Akin to Chilli, there’s really no way to go wrong here. What follows is our family’s “Flyin’ By the Seat of My Pants” Stew. What I mean to say is, I’m not overly concerned with the presence of every ingredient or perfect proportions. I simply whip up what I have on hand, doctoring it up for my individual liking.

Case and point. In the below recipe, you’ll see a calling for diced tomatoes. The last time I made this dish, I happened to be out of the diced variety. Instead, I substituted a spoonful of tomato paste and about a ½ cup of salsa we had on hand, ensuring I kept that good umami from the tomatoes, without fretting over a grocery store run. I know not all of you practice such tabo kitchen chaos; but please, don’t worry if you don’t have to. By all means, consider yourself liberated to deviate and play! Without further adieu…

“By the Seat of My Pants” Crockpot Beef Stew


2-3 lbs beef stew meat or chuck roast
3-4 celery stalks
1 medium onion
3-5 large mushrooms
3 carrots
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
1 large white potato (1-3 medium/small ones)
2 Tbs worcestershire sauce
1-2 heaping Tbs of “Better than Bouillon” beef base
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1-2 hefty pinch(es) of kosher salt
1 bay leaf


  • Process your vegetables, cutting them into ½-1” pieces or cubes.
  • Place all the ingredients into a large crockpot in a relatively similar order to the list above.
  • Fill the Crockpot to the top with water and cover.
  • Cook on HIGH for 5-6hrs, or ideally on LOW for 8-12hrs.
  • Remove bay leaf, give it a good stir, and serve with extra seasonings/additives if needed (hot sauce, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, etc).