Charles from sixdifferentways writes about his Spanish Stew:
The Soup Lady said I could send a stew recipe and it would still count as soup. I lost the recipe for this stew long ago, but make it often enough that I basically have it memorized by now. I call it “Spanish stew.” I think the original recipe was in some magazine or something, as being typical of a dish made in Spain. The southern region near the French border. This was discovered in college. It’s the
best kind of meal: delicious, easy, one-dish, freezes well for those times when
you are short on time, and relatively cheap. Some of the ingredients are a bit
pricey, but you have to figure this recipe makes two dinners for two and a couple of lunches. I still bring leftovers of this for lunch. It is better than
anything you can buy out.
Spanish Stew – footnotes included*
1 – 1 ½ pounds of beef or lamb stew meat, cut into cubes 
¼ cup of flour
1 – 1 ½ heads of garlic (not cloves and NOT chopped)
4-5 whole shallots (NOT chopped)
1 – ½ cups good dry red wine 
2-3 carrots, sliced
2-3 stalks of celery, sliced (I like including some of the leafy parts)
½ cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
5 or 6 WHOLE new or small white or red potatoes
7 or 8 whole cloves
2 tablespoons other dried herbs 
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or a few dashes of hot sauce (optional, but I am from Texas)
½ cup fresh-grated Parmesan-Reggiano (pricey but so
1/2 cup good quality fresh black olives (i.e., not in a jar or
(optional) 2 pinches of saffron
(optional) 1 baguette or other fresh bread – this is really part of the stew, a necessity and not “on the side”, even though it’s on the side.
Salt  and fresh-ground pepper.
a few tablespoons of European butter
To make this, you need a slow cooker, sometimes called a “crock pot.” (I suppose you could use a pan over low heat, but a crock-pot is one of the best inventions of the 20th Century. Everyone should own one. You can make stuff and forget about it. It won’t overcook. It won’t heat up the kitchen in the summer. It is idiot-proof.) You will also need a food processor of some sort or maybe a blender.
Toss the cubes of meat in the flour. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and brown the meat until slightly browned all over. Spoon all this into your crock-pot. Stick the whole cloves into the potatoes. Add all of the vegetables and herbs except the saffron, and wine to cover. Turn the crock-pot on for several hours (6 hours or less turn on “high”, 8-12 hours on “low.”)
After this time, you need to take a slotted spoon and carefully remove the potatoes, garlic cloves, and shallots. Remove the cloves from the potatoes best you can. Chop the potatoes a bit and add them back in. Here is the essential trick: This stew is not thickened by flour or anything like that. The mashed garlic and shallots thicken it. So take the whole garlic cloves and shallots, and add them to the food processor with a bit of the juice and the saffron. Process until you have a thick paste. Use a spatula and scoop every bit back into the pot. Continue to cook on “high” for another 2 hours or more. Taste for seasoning. You may want to add a tablespoon or so of extra virgin Olive oil to finish if you use no olives.
Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of the parmesan and the sliced bread. If you want to be really decadent, finish each bowl with about 1/2 a teaspoon of the butter, in the French manner. The butter is good on the bread, too – but the stew is rich enough you don’t really need it if you want to cut back on the fat a bit.
I think that’s it. I may have forgotten something, I’m just writing off-the-cuff. However, it should be very good. It’s stew, you can add other vegetables or seasonigs or whatever you like or have around. Play around. You’ll like it.
Note: This is really good if you keep it in the refrigerator overnight
after you cook it. It also freezes wonderfully. In fact, if you have a big enough crock-pot, make double the recipe and freeze some for a quick meal later.
 Being Spanish, you could probably also use some seafood instead – shrimp, crabs, etc. Just don’t add it until about the last 15 minutes of cooking – and maybe use white wine instead of red.
 You should always cook with wine that is, at least, drinkable. “Cooking wine” is an abomination and should be banned. This is cheap, leftover wine that is salted so much it can be sold as cooking wine and not a beverage. You see no cooking wine on grocery shelves in France. There is a reason for this. You don’t have to use great wine for cooking, but it should be decent.
 I like to use a quality fines herbes or “Herbs from Provence” mix, from Morton and Bassett in San Francisco. They sell it at a lot of markets here or http://www.mortonbassett.com – which has chervil, rosemary, tarragon, lavender, marjoram, savory, tyme, and parsley. Use whatever you like, but some rosemary and tarragon in the mix are recommended.
 Like a lot of slow-cooked dishes, one trick is to season this throughout the cooking stages if possible. I like to add a bit of kosher salt in the beginning. After processing the garlic and shallots, I’ll add a pinch of pink Alaea Hawaiian sea salt, Tinged pinkish from contact with iron oxide inherent in that region’s waters, large crystals of this unique Hawaiian sea salt add complexity to the dish (it’s great on any grilled meat or vegetables, too.). Right before serving, a sprinkling of snow-white a French fleur de sel, in particular that gathered only in the Summer from the ile de Re. Yes, I have eight different salts in my cupboard and none is a cardboard cylinder of iodized stuff with the slogan “when it rains it pours.” Though that will work, too. I am just a saltophile.