Vegan Pumpkin Stew: Whiskey Barley & Lentils,Pumpkin Dumplings, and Charred Cauliflower

A Main Course, Soup post written by on November 15, 2013


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Ultimate Pumpkin Stew

So the pumpkin recipes have slowly diminished on the interwebs, which is why I’m presenting more of it here… now. With even more pumpkins. With the usual tardiness of a mere half season late in my seasonal cooking. Four days later than when I said I would post it… so, thanks for stopping by dear friends!

If you’re not drowning in pumpkin fever yet, continue reading. Or, just bookmark this for next year. Because, you know, I’m technically just a year ahead if you look at it that way.


I’m just curious if there are anyone out there that’s naturally adept at recipe writing? I’m just going to go right ahead and admit that I am terrible at writing recipes. The only way I can remember is by keeping some dirty kitchen pen and paper handy so I can take notes and repeat the same instructions again – but, like most things, I improvise and make changes continually, so no two recipes tests ever look, taste, or feel like the original.

So, yes, this is a recipe, or something like that, but what you’re really looking at is some sort of hybrid, a concept that came from a moment of madness, its form mutating with each stroke of my knife, each cupping of flour… Ideas, like ingredients see permutations in the act of cooking. They get cut. They get chopped, and if I’m lucky, they come out looking decent enough to talk about. Sometimes, I just like talking about them. So if you make this stew, feel free to edit, or change, or just make it up as you go along. It’s a fine recipe, but I know that my cooking always improves with many trials and accidents, something that’s hard to come by this time of year.




Vegan Pumpkin Stew:

I love this stew – it’s a savory take on pumpkins, and it’s got dumplings! Ever since I started eating nothing but veggies, I’ve missed eating chicken and dumpling soups, so here you go – a vegan variety, with cauliflower to boot! The cauliflower uses a lot of oil and should be salty to balance the sweetness of the stew. Don’t skimp on the oil.

Also, you’ll need a lot of broth for this recipe. I made a double batch and had extra. This recipe has a lot of different ingredients but they are very easy to execute. I’ve separated them into individual components so you can put it together easily, but you should make sure everything’s prepped before beginning.


Whiskey Barley

1 c. pearl barley (whole grain barley needs more broth and longer cooking)

1 1/2 c. vegetable broth

1/2 c. whiskey/bourbon (optional, but hey, so fun!)

1 TB oil

pinch of salt

2 bay leaves

2 fresh sage leaves

+ If you’re using whole barley, soak them a bit to reduce cooking time, and add 1 c. of broth. For pearled barley, bring everything to a boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes, covered.


Whiskey Lentil

1/2 c. black lentils

3/4 c. vegetable broth

1/4 c. whiskey/bourbon

1 TB oil

pinch of salt

+ Bring everything to a boil and simmer for at least 45 minutes, covered.



2 TB oil

1 TB chopped sage

2 onions, diced

10 c. broth

2 ts. salt

1 can of pumpkin puree

1/4 c. red, split lentils

1/4 c. alphabets pasta(not pictured, but I’m not joking, these things are yum in stews, also really fun the first time I made this)

2 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

+ Cook onions and sage in oil until brown. Next, add salt, pumpkin puree, and lentils and bring to a boil. Add cooked barley and lentils and then prep the dumplings.


Pumpkin Dumplings

250 g. pumpkin puree

1/2 c. broth

175 g. flour

1 TB baking powder

100 g. fine bread crumbs

1 TB oil

1 ts. salt

+ Mix flour, bread crumbs, baking powder, and salt together. Whisk oil, pumpkin, and broth together. Combine the two together with a delicate fork. Next, give it a dusting of flour for easy handling.

+ Drop teaspoon sized dumplings into the boiling stew once the water is bubbly. Then, add the pasta and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the carrots and celery last, cooking for 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit while you cook the cauliflower.


Charred Cauliflower

1/4 c. oil

1 cauliflower, separated into florettes

1 ts. smoked paprika

1 ts. smoked sea salt

1/2 c. almonds, chopped or slivered

+ In a heavy skillet on high, heat up the oil and cook the cauliflower seasoned with paprika and salt. When the cauliflower has gotten plenty of dark edges (even more dark than my photo), add the almonds and cook until they are toasted. Stir often or they will burn.


Serve: Put some stew with a few dumplings into a shallow bowl topped with cauliflower. Enjoy!

Up Next: The perils of picking chestnuts. Maybe a chestnut pot de creme recipe…!

Ultimate Pumpkin Stew

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5 Responses to “Vegan Pumpkin Stew: Whiskey Barley & Lentils,Pumpkin Dumplings, and Charred Cauliflower”

  1. I am not naturally adept at recipe writing. I’d say that only 1 out of 5 recipes that I cook end up on VV because there are so many times that I’ll get into the groove of cooking and totally make something up only to realize later that I have no idea what the proportions were. Oh and I’d like to add that this looks fantastic!

    • phi says:

      This. Exactly. I’m working to improve my methods by testing my recipes, but this one makes a lot so I end up eating it for weeks. It’s a good thing I love cauliflower and dumplings…

  2. This looks so interesting and wonderful! I love that it combines cauliflower and pumpkin,–and whiskey! Your photos are lovely and I can’t wait to try and make this.

    • phi says:

      I still have a little left in my fridge… if you want to skip the making bits like I have for the past few days. 🙂

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