This dish sounds a little weird but it is, as Isa notes, home cooked comfort food at it’s best. Imagine yummy leeks cooked with other veggies and then crowned with light fluffy biscuits – a cassoulet that comes with it’s one bread to dunk, how convenient! Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked bean stew or casserole originating in the south of France. It usually contains meat but this recipe uses more veggies and then adds biscuits. So biscuits on a cassoulet is maybe something you haven’t tried before but I suggest you do as soon as possible. These, though, are more like scones rather than biscuits so they soak up the veggie broth so well. It’s also a great way to get a range of veggies in one meal. Another point, this meal takes some time to prepare so it’s one of our Sunday favourites but it lasts us three nights. So you need time for this one but it’s worth it and it lasts.
For the stew:
- 2 potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 leeks, washed well and sliced thinly (about 2 cups)
- 1 small onion, cut into medium-sized dice
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
- Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less depending on how salty your broth is, so taste first)
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
- 1 can/cooked cannellini beans
- 3/4 cup plain soy milk
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegan shortening
Preheat the oven to 215 Celsius.
To cook the potatoes:
- Place the potatoes in a small pot, and cover with water.
- Cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Drain immediately so that they do not overcook.
- While they are boiling, you can prep the rest of the veggies and start preparing the biscuits.
- You're not going to make them yet, but it's good to have everything ready when it comes time to top the stew. Add the vinegar to the soy milk in a measuring cup, and set aside to curdle. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Mix the cornstarch into the vegetable broth until dissolved; set aside.
- Preheat an oven-safe skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Sauté in the oil the leeks, onions and carrots until very soft and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Keep the heat moderate so that they don't burn.
- Add the garlic, thyme, freshly ground black pepper and salt, and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add the cooked potatoes and frozen peas, then pour in the vegetable stock mixture. Raise the heat just a bit; it will take a few minutes but the liquid will start simmering. Once it does, lower the heat again. Let it simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, but no longer than that.
- If you need more time for the biscuits, then turn off the heat under the stew.
- Add the shortening to the flour in small slivers, and work it into the dough with a fork or with your fingers until large crumbs form. You don't want to cream it in; there should be clumps. Drizzle in the soy milk, and mix with a fork until everything is moistened (some dry parts are OK).
- Wash and dry your hands, then lightly flour them and get them dirty again. Gently knead the dough about 10 times right in the bowl, just so that it is holding together and not very sticky. If it seems sticky, as in sticking to your fingers, then gently work in a little more flour. Set that aside.
- Check on your stew. The stew should be simmering and slightly thickened. Mix in the beans.
- Now, let's add the biscuits. Pull off chunks of dough that are about slightly larger than golf balls. Gently roll them into balls, and flatten a bit; they do not have to be perfectly round. Add them to the top of the stew, placed an inch or so apart.
- Transfer the whole it to the preheated oven. If you are worried about spill-over, place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes. The biscuits should be just slightly browned and firm to the touch.
- Remove from the oven, and use a large serving spoon to place some of the stew and a biscuit in each shallow, individual bowl. Sprinkle with a little fresh, chopped thyme. Serve at last! Especially yummy when you break up your biscuit and mix it in a bit with your stew.