Poor Man's Stew Recipe: Easy, Heartwarming and Healthy

Updated on February 12, 2020
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This stew is one of the many poor man's stews my mother used to make.

This poor man's stew is perfect with beetroot.
This poor man's stew is perfect with beetroot.

Poor Man's Stew

I was born into a poor mining family in Yorkshire in 1960. We did not have much money, but we always ate well. This stew is one of the many poor man's stews my mother used to make. Mum used to serve this one-pan meal with Yorkshire pudding, dumplings or pancakes, to make the stew go further.

In those days, Mum cooked the stew on an old Victorian range built around the coal fireplace in the kitchen. The range was central and the heart of family life—not only for cooking, but also for hot water and warmth. These ranges were common in my village and in all the miners' houses up my street. My grandmother also cooked on the range.

Making the Stew Today

I do not need to cook on the range anymore, or eat poor man's stew, but I still make this stew often because it is so quick and tasty. I have even made this stew without meat for my vegetarian friends, and they love it with some French bread and a glass of wine.

My own children and grandchildren have always eaten and enjoyed this stew. They still like to have the stew with dumplings, Yorkshire pudding or pancakes made from the Yorkshire pudding mix, like they did in Yorkshire when I was a young lass. Add frozen dumplings or make your own for that extra filling.

This is a heartwarming stew that is perfect for those cold winter days, as it warms us up from the inside. Easy and quick to make, it is perfect for those that have not been feeling well as this stew gives energy. It is a quick and simple stew that will feed many from one pan—and it is filling, too.

A Note on the Vegetables

For those who have difficulty in chopping the vegetables, or who do not have time to prepare vegetables, fresh prepared vegetables from the supermarket or frozen vegetables will work just as well.

For this stew, I used the last bits of vegetables from my fridge rather than waste them. You can add other vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans or whatever you have in your fridge.


  • 250 grams or 8 ounces mince beef
  • onion, chopped
  • carrots, chopped
  • new potatoes, chopped
  • cabbage, sliced
  • beef stock cube
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • gravy granules


  1. Peel and chop the vegetables into chunks.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to a large pan. Add the mince and cook on a low heat until there is no more pink meat and the mince is brown.
  3. Add crumbled meat stock cube. Continue stirring for a minute, making sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pain.
  4. Add the chopped onions to the pan and continue cooking and stirring on a low heat until onions soften.
  5. Add carrots, potatoes, cabbage, enough water to cover the vegetables and seasoning. Stir. Bring to the boil.
  6. Once boiling, reduce the heat until stew is simmering. Place the pan lid on and cover the stew. Allow to simmer until vegetables have softened.
  7. Add gravy granules until gravy thickens to your liking. The stew is ready to eat.

Photo Guide

Prepare the ingredients.
Prepare the ingredients.
Simmer slowly until the cabbage breaks down.
Simmer slowly until the cabbage breaks down.
Top with dumplings, if you like.
Top with dumplings, if you like.

Adding Dumplings

Dumplings can be cooked on the hob or in the oven. For oven dumplings that turn golden brown, transfer the stew to an oven-proof dish. Add dumplings and place in the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes to make a crusted dumpling.


  • 150 grams or 8 ounces self-raising flour
  • 75 grams or 2 ounces of suet
  • Pinch salt
  • Water for mixing to a dough


  1. Put the flour, salt and suet into a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix ingredients together with a fork.
  3. Slowly add water and continue mixing by hand until the ingredients become a dough.
  4. Break off some of the dough and roll into dumpling balls.
  5. Put dumplings into top of pan 20 minutes before the end of cooking time.

For crispier dumplings, like mine:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C or gas mark 5.
  2. Put stew into oven-proof dish.
  3. Place dumplings on top and cook for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

This stew is often eaten with pancakes in Yorkshire.
This stew is often eaten with pancakes in Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Pudding Mix for Pancakes

Try this stew with pancakes, like they make in Yorkshire.


  • 125 grams plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 millilitres whole or semi-skimmed milk
  • salt
  • Cooking oil to fry pancakes


  1. Put the flour in a mixing bowl. Sift the flour with the salt.
  2. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and beat together.
  3. Gradually add the eggs to the flour to make a smooth batter. Add the milk and whisk until combined.
  4. Heat up a frying pan with 1 teaspoon of cooking oil. When the oil is hot, pour a little of the mix into the frying pan. Move the mix around so that it spreads. Cook for 1 minute and then flip it over and cook the other side for 1 minute.

  5. Place the pancake on a dinner plate and add the stew on top.
  6. This pancake mix can be used for dessert, so save some for afters. Sprinkle with lemon juice, orange juice, ice cream and maple syrup, or whatever you fancy. My children like chocolate spread on theirs.

Final Notes

This stew is full of vitamins and nutrients. It's perfect for blending for weaning babies.

Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment in the box below.


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