Marsha B. Cohen

Marsha’s Easy Fast Special Stew


This tasty, nourishing and satisfying stew is rich in protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates that stave off hunger pangs and stabilize blood sugar well into a fast. The amounts of meat and vegetables (and their size) can be easily adjusted to suit the number of people eating it—don’t forget to adjust the size of the pot too. (This recipe can also be made with veggie burger for vegetarians and before Tisha b'Av, or even without ot, since the vegetable proteins from the legumes, barley, and protein complement each other and make it very filling.)


1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon oil

1 stalk celery, finely chopped (optional)

1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced OR 1 tablespoon jarred minced OR 1 tsp. garlic powder

2 potatoes, white or sweet (or some of each), diced

2-3 carrots, diced

1 lb. boneless chicken or turkey or beef, in 1” cubes or ground. For vegetarians or before Tisha b'Av, use 2-4 veggie burgers, in 1" cubes or 1 package Morningstar Farms vegetarian "chicken" or "steak" strips (optional)

¼ cup ketchup

1 cup dry wine (optional)

1 cup quick barley (you can use other types of barley but cooking time will vary)

1 can lentils, drained (unless you’re using organic canned lentils with no preservatives), or 2 cups cooked

1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas) drained – see above, or 2 cups cooked

1 bay leaf

¼ cup fresh parsley, minced, or 1 tablespoon dried

1 6” sprig fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried (optional)

1 –2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried (optional)

1-2 tsp. paprika

Water or stock (don’t use a high-salt content stock or one that contains MSG)

Salt, pepper and paprika to taste


Heat the oil over medium heat in a saute pan, dutch oven or stew pot THAT HAS A COVER. Stir in the onions and saute until soft and golden. Add fresh minced garlic, carrots and potatoes and continue sauteing ands stirring for another 2-3 minutes. Add the meat, and saute until meat cubes are seared on all sides or the ground meat no longer looks raw. Mix in the ketchup. Stir in the barley (and the dry wine, if you’re using it). Add the lentils and garbanzo beans. Add enough water or stock to come up to about ¾ of level of the mixture. The amount of water needed will vary, depending on whether or not you add wine and/or the liquid from the legumes. Add the bay leaf and stir in the fresh or dried herbs (and the pre-minced or dried garlic if you aren’t using fresh). Mix ingredients. Bring to a boil. Mix again. Cover and simmer over low heat until potatoes, carrots, meat and barley are tender (about 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the diced veggies, the type and size of the meat--chicken breast cooks more quickly than beef, ground beef more quickly than chunks, and the type of barley). Stir occasionally to prevent sticking or burning, especially toward the end of the cooking process. Lightly season with salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Garnish with a dash of paprika and some fresh minced parsley before serving if desired. Serves 4-6.


Variations: 1) If you have leftover cooked chicken or meat that you want to use up, you can add it to the stew in addition to, or instead of, the raw. Remove any bones and fat, cut it into cubes or chunks, and toss it in with the barley. 2) You can use one cup of small dry red or green lentils (they cook very quickly) instead of canned—rinse them well and add to the stew. 3) If you’ve cooked homemade garbanzos (chick peas) and/or large lentils instead of using canned, use your cooking liquid in place of the stock or water.


Note: This recipe can also be made as a “cholent” in a crock pot. If you’ve got alot to do on erevYom Kippur, you can put everything into the crock pot early in the morning and it will be ready by late afternoon. Put all the ingredients into the crock, add liquid to barely cover, stir well, and let everything cook on low heat for 8-10 hours. (When 9 Av fell on Sunday, I just put all the ingredients into the removable crock on erev shabbat with plenty of water to cover and let it cook on low until seudah shlishit so we could eat it before the fast began.)


For more details on planning a pre-fast seudat mafseket and tips on making fasting easier, see