I fell in love with cooking when I started to cook without recipes. When I let my intuition tell me what to do with the ingredients I have in hand. I would take the vegetables out of the fridge or pantry, place them on the counter and while I rinse them or chop them ideas would pop in my head. Some of my best meals I cooked without too much thought.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love being tucked in bed with a good cookbook or discovering a great recipe online but it’s liberating to know how to cook without them. Like driving without Waze. I find it overwhelming to Google a recipe or leaf through a cookbook when I’m in a rush, or starving. Like anything else in life, it takes time in the beginning to gain experience and confidence, but the more you cook and experiment the easier it gets to create your own recipes or adjust them and make them yours. I created this gatherer soup with bigos (Hunter Stew) in mind. The thing that I loved about bigos wasn’t the meat, it was the sourness of the sauerkraut and the smokiness of the sausage. My version is meatless but full of umami and comfort.
- ¼ cup avocado oil - or olive oil
- 1 large onion - diced
- 4 large potatoes - diced
- 2 carrots - sliced
- 1 medium zucchini - sliced
- ¼ cabbage head - chopped
- 1 container mushrooms - quartered
- ¼ cup sauerkraut - drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 12 peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato juice
- ¼ cup red wine – optional
- Olive oil for serving
- Warm the oil in a medium dutch oven or oven proof pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and golden, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat the oven to 380F° (190°).
- Add the rest of the vegetables to the pot and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients with 3 cups of water and bring into a boil.
- Turn the heat off. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Bake for about 1½ – 2 hours. Check every now and then if there’s enough liquid in the bottom of the pot. The liquid should get concentrated like gravy.
- Serve the stew in deep plates and drizzle a little bit of olive oil. With or without bread.