When I was a kid, I was a total book nerd (in all honesty, I’m still a total book nerd, although I no longer have hours and hours to hide with a book, at least not without feeling massive amounts of guilt). When I was 6 or 7, this was my favorite book in the entire universe:

If you’re not familiar with it, it’s about a family of orphaned children who find an abandoned boxcar and adopt it as their home. It was, like, the ultimate in playing house. I relished all the little details–dumpster diving for silverware and then scrubbing the rust off with sand. Building a “swimming pool” in the creek by the boxcar. Making a stew in the woods with beef and some garden vegetables. Looking back, when I read this book, it was the first time I was completely captivated by the story of food and cooking. I had never really eaten stew before (at least not stew that didn’t come from a can), but I was completely taken with this idea of something wholesome and delicious cooked with something practical like baby garden vegetables and some meat bought after a hard day’s work.

Fast forward a few years–after my mom died and my dad remarried, we did eat a lot of beef stew. In fact, this recipe was our standard Sunday dinner. Everything would go into the Dutch oven and then into the oven before we went to church and when we got home 3 hours later, it would be ready. When we had it with whole wheat bread and butter and milk to drink, it seriously fulfilled my Boxcar Children vision of delicious wholesomeness.
 
I’ve changed the old standard a little–added some (a lot of) garlic, substituted V8 for tomato juice and beef bouillon instead of just salt. But really, it’s all the same: something easy, nourishing, and delicious that just about everybody loves.
 
Hearty Beef Stew
You’ll need some carrots, celery, an onion, baby potatoes, beef bouillon/base, V8 (or other vegetable cocktail like Bloody Mary mix), fresh garlic, a can of tomato soup, dried basil, and freshly ground black pepper.
Hearty Beef Stew ingredients
You’ll also need some lean stew meat. You may need to cut some of the pieces into something a little more bite-sized.
Beef for hearty beef stew
Preheat oven to 300 F. Cut the veggies–I usually make the potatoes on the large side of bite-sized, the carrots and celery on the small side of bite-sized, and then the onions chopped pretty small because I don’t like them in chunks. But you can do it however you like!
 
chopped veggies for Hearty Beef Stew
Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven or other heavy oven-safe dish with a tight-fitting lid.
 
Hearty Beef Stew ingredients in dutch oven
Cook for 3 hours. 
Hearty Beef Stew
 Serve with a loaf of French bread or homemade rolls and some honey butter.
 
Print
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Sunday Beef Stew

  • Author: kate jones
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10

Description

A hearty, comforting, and EASY beef stew recipe perfect for cozy nights inside!


Ingredients

  • 1 pound baby potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 45 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 56 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups vegetable juice cocktail (like V8 or Bloody Mary Mix)
  • 1 10-ounce can condensed tomato soup
  • 10 ounces water (just use empty soup can to measure)
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes or 2 teaspoons beef base
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 23 pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into smaller cubes if necessary

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 F. Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven or other heavy oven-safe dish with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 3 hours. 


Notes

I haven’t had great luck making this in the slow cooker or the pressure cooker–the recipe seems to rely on a little evaporation and when I’ve made it using these methods, the stew ends up a little soupy/watery. I’ll keep working on it and see if I can figure it out!

 

90 comments

  1. I love that book. I do have to say, however, that the most memorable part for me was how they put the milk in the rock behind the waterfall so it would stay cold. Simply brilliant.

    I'm psyched for this stew. Great fall food as we try and transition from Arizona (wonderful) to Chicago (freezing).

  2. Everything I know about The Boxcar Children I learned from a video reenactment my brother did in the 6th grade, lol. Strangely I remember a LOT from that!

    The stew looks great. I just got 30lbs of potatoes from my husbands Grandma so I think I'll be putting this on my menu for Sunday!

    Shelly, popcorn kernels are all different. Sometimes mine are big and fluffy and sometimes they are small and dinky. I think it's just the luck of the draw. Also, sometimes the sugar comes out darker and that's just fine. Depends on the heat, the pan, etc. The batch I photographed for that post was unusually light! Make it a few times and you'll get the feel of how it's supposed to look at feel, etc.

  3. That was my FAVORITE book when I was a kid too! I read it over and over. And the stew looks fantastic, if I hadn't made beef stew recently I'd put it on the menu for tonight!

  4. I absolutely loved the Boxcar Children books. They were my favorite! This stew looks delish.

    I made the kettle corn yesterday and the popcorn was really small fluffs. They didn't get very big. Then the surgar part got a little darker thatn yours. It was yummy and I still ate. Just wandering why my kernals didn't pop very big. Is that normal?

  5. Boxcar Children was one of my favorite childhood books. It's funny that the same scenes stood out in my memories- polishing silverware, building the pool, stew… remember the shelf with all their treasures on it? This recipe just makes me want to go check out the book from the library and read it all in one day while my stew bubbles away in the stove.
    I really think part of the joy of using recipes from your website is the stories and "piece of your heart" that you both share. Thank you for not only preparing such wonderfully tasty food but also for making cooking a personal and comforting experience.

  6. I LOVED the Boxcar Children! I had totally forgotten about it until you just mentioned it..wow. We actually read those in school. Then I got hooked on the Little House Books and then The Black Stallion..growing up I wanted to live in a boxcar,on a prairie with a black stallion:)

  7. The stew looks fabulous, I love stew, the best comfort food 🙂 I never read Boxcar Children but have definitely herd of it, what a fun memory!

  8. Yes! I had the EXACT same reaction to The Boxcar Children. For me, though the books that really awakened me to food were Heidi (I still want to try toasted goat cheese spread on freshly-made bread) and the Little House books.

    This is basically my stew recipe, down to the V-8, except I throw in a bay leaf.

    I have really been loving your site since my friend Brenda (SAJ) introduced me to it a while back! I've made several of your recipes and have yet to find a bad one. Please keep up the great work! 🙂

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