As I was walking through the farmer's market, the bounty of the harvest season was laid out before me, a blanket of autumn beauty. The colors, the scents, all spoke to me of the romance of cooking that has made me enjoy it so much these many years. I bought one beautiful vegetable after another, sensing the melange which would take their simple shapes to the sublime. Come make this wonderful vegetable stew as well, so you may also rediscover the romance of cooking that has made you the foodie you are. Note that this requires a large crock pot. If you have a smaller one, you may reduce the ingredient amounts accordingly. Omit the bacon if you like a truly vegetarian dish (but realize that in doing so it diminishes the flavor).
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 leek, light green and white parts only, thoroughly rinsed and thinly sliced
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 1 1⁄2 cups chopped parsnips
- 1 cup fresh stringless green beans, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 1⁄2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
- 5 -6 garlic cloves, sliced (use an amount you like)
- 1 1⁄2 cups small cauliflower florets
- 1⁄2 lb bacon, fat rendered out and chopped
- 2 cups chopped baby eggplants
- 1 1⁄2 cups cremini mushrooms or 1 1⁄2 cups portabella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup chopped yellow and orange baby carrots
- 3 cups chopped purple potatoes, and
- fingerling potato
- 1 1⁄2 cups grape tomatoes
- 5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons herbes de provence
- 3⁄4 cup dry white wine or 3⁄4 cup apple cider
- 12 ounces tomato juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sprinkle eggplant with salt and allow to drain in colander for 30 minutes. Thoroughly rinse before adding to other vegetables.
- Sear all veggies first in a large pan on top of stove (to diminish the alcoholic character from the wine) over high heat until they wilt.
- Place veggies in large crock pot with other ingredients and cover, cooking on low for 5-6 hours or until vegetables are tender.
- Serve with crusty bread and wine, if desired.