SERVES: 6-8 (makes about 10 cups)
1½ large yellow or white onions, chopped into ¾-inch pieces
3 ribs celery, chopped into ¾-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, sliced lengthwise and cut into ¾-inch pieces
2 portabella mushrooms (about ½ pound), cut into ¾-inch pieces
1½ Tbsp. finely chopped garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
5 cups water
2 pounds white potatoes (I use about 3 large Yukon Gold), cut into ¾-inch pieces
¼ cup tomato paste (or more, to taste)
1 tsp. dried Italian herb blend
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary (or ½ tsp. dried)
1½ cups green peas (if frozen, thaw first)
½ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Ground black pepper to taste
Heat a large soup pot on high with 1 tablespoon of water. When the water begins to sputter, add the onion, celery, and carrot, and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently as the edges of the onion browns slightly, and adding a little water as needed to prevent sticking.
Stir in the mushrooms and garlic, and continue to cook while stirring for an additional 5 minutes, adding water as needed.
Add the 5 cups of water, potatoes, tomato paste, dried Italian herbs, and paprika. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a low boil. Stir in the rosemary and cook covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peas, and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
Place 2 cups of the stew (broth and vegetables) into a blender, and blend under very smooth. Stir this back into the pot to thicken the stew, and stir in the parsley. Serve with a few twists of ground black pepper and, if you like, add a small sprig of rosemary as garnish.
Try blending in 1-2 Tbsp. red miso paste just before serving, for a slightly more savory taste. If you want it brighter instead, use 1-2 Tbsp. of lemon juice. Smoked paprika can be substituted for the regular paprika.