Is a stew really a stew if it’s cooked in under half an hour?  I don’t know the answer to that, but what I do know is we sat down to invitingly steaming bowlfuls filled with sweet spring veg, erring on the side of al dente, all surrounded with a tasty broth and seasoned with crispy pancetta and a little parmesan.  If it can legitimately be called a stew, then it’s proof that a stew most definitely does not need to be slow cooked to be delicious.

I love asparagus season, and I think it’s fair to say that we’ve been making the most of the green spears this spring.  But, I’d been looking out for British white asparagus for a while now, and despite its anaemic, slightly odd appearance, when I finally saw some fat, juicy looking stems, I snapped up a bunch without hesitation.  I didn’t put too much thought into what to do with it, and my first bite of a piece in this stew was pleasant – a subtle, familiar asparagus-y flavour – but mildly bitter.  After investigation online I found out that the skin is known for having a bitter taste, but peeling it off sorts that problem out.  I don’t know if I’ll actually be doing that in the future, as we quite like bitter flavours (it reminded me of endive, a favourite of ours) and it was a nice contrast to the various sweeter veg filling my bowl.  But just a heads up for any of you who aren’t so into embracing the bitterness…




200g new potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces

200g parsnip, cut into pieces similar to the potatoes

1 medium onion, finely sliced

2 small carrots, diced

1 celery stick, diced

100g spring greens, shredded

100g asparagus, cut into batons (I used chunky white asparagus, but green would be equally good)

A handful mushrooms, sliced

100g peas

3 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 spring onions, chopped

2 -3 tsp. bouillon

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped

About 70g pancetta

1 tbsp. oil

Black pepper

Parmesan, to serve




Put the potatoes and parsnips into a saucepan, and cover with about 500ml cold water.  Add the bouillon, then bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until just done (mine took about ten minutes.)

Meanwhile, put the pancetta into a dry pan, and fry until the fat renders off and the pieces turn crispy.  Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, then fry the mushrooms in the remaining fat until they’re cooked.

Remove the mushrooms and set aside, then add the oil to the pan.  Heat it, and fry together the sliced onion, celery and carrot, along with the bay leaf and thyme, until the onion is cooked.  Add the asparagus, spring greens and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the cooked potatoes and parsnips along with their cooking liquid.  Stir through the mushrooms and grind in plenty of black pepper, then simmer for about ten to fifteen minutes, until the asparagus is tender.  Finally, add the peas and the spring onions, and cook for a further couple of minutes.  Serve sprinkled with the pancetta and parmesan.








  1. A spring vegetable stew sounds so good! Love how you added crispy pancetta too. Interesting about removing the skins on asparagus. I think we enjoy the slight bitterness too, however, next time I make asparagus I think I try it without skins…

    1. I think it’s just with the white asparagus – I peeled it last night to use in a cannelloni filling and it definitely made a difference. And the pancetta was soooo good with it. Don’t need much, but it takes it to the next level…

  2. Sinfully Tempting · · Reply

    This looks and sounds delightful! Love the addition of crispy pancetta to the mix and the fried mushrooms. Yum! 🙂

  3. Looks fresh and appetizing:)

  4. Just the perfect thing for this weather. Why do I always comment about weather here so British and a bit dull (of me) but I often look at your dishes and think yes that’s just what I feel like today. Yum!

    1. Ha. I understand! What comes out of my kitchen is often based on what the weather’s doing, so it’s not surprising you feel like that I guess!

  5. Beautiful spring stew. There is something so special about being able to enjoy the bounty of the season. I haven’t tried the white asparagus yet, but maybe I will now.

    1. Do you like pak choi and similar? It was so juicy and chewable, it reminded me a bit of pak choi stems. Eating a meal like this makes you sit up and notice the season, which is an important thing (for me, at least) when living in a city….

      1. I do like pak choi and I completely agree. I’m making a stew of my own tonight!

  6. Hi Karinna, I’m Mary from Mary’s Secret Ingredients, I found your blog through Suzanne! This looks like a great stew, really hearty and delicious!

    1. Thanks Suzanne!

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