I’ve been taking a break from my usual salads for lunch the past few weeks and have been making big pots of soups and stews for work lunches instead. It’s so nice to mix things up and experiment with different flavors while still getting plenty of vegetables and clean protein. It’s especially nice when I can prep all of the ingredients quickly and throw everything in the slow cooker, because that means less time in the kitchen and more time hanging with the fam on Sunday afternoons.
Big pots of stew are especially nice because they are so easy to portion out into separate containers for lunch, and they don’t require any additional prep. They often taste even more delicious the next few days after! Last week I made a big pot of vegetable beef soup which was so good, and this week I decided to make a chicken stew since I try to make chicken my usual protein for work lunches.
This garlic and parmesan stew is so tasty, and it’s a crowd pleaser! Garlic and parmesan are two flavors I’m pretty sure 99% of people like, so this is a safe option to make for dinner and know that the entire family will love it! It freezes wonderfully, and the recipe below should be enough to feed a family of four twice, so freeze away!
Start by prepping all of your vegetables. Dice the celery and onions (keeping the onions separate because you are going to cook them first). Then, peel and chop the parsnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes. You can really add any root vegetables you want to this stew, and they will fit right in. The more veggies the better in my opinion.
Next, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and diced onion, and saute for 4-5 minutes until the onions are tender. Then, remove them from the heat and add to slow cooker. If you are pressed for time, you can skip this step and just throw the onions and garlic into the slow cooker; however, I do think that cooking them for just a few minutes first really helps to develop the flavor of the onions and garlic much more than just putting them the slow cooker raw.
It’s all easy from here on out! Add the rest of the chopped vegetables to the slow cooker along with the raw chicken, broth, salt, pepper, and basil. Turn the slow cooker on high for 4 hours until the chicken can be easily shred with a fork and the vegetables are tender. Use a fork to shred the chicken into small pieces. I am always able to do this just leaving the chicken in the pot and not even having to remove it. If it shreds that easily, you know it’s ready.
And lastly, add the heavy cream or half and half to the slow cooker. This will give your stew a creamier and thicker texture rather than a super thin broth base. At this point you also want to add the parmesan cheese to the slow cooker. Allow the stew to cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour after adding the cheese and cream, then taste it and add additional salt, pepper, or parmesan cheese to taste.
Then you’re ready to serve! Portion out into lunch containers or have for dinner right away! Garnish with additional parmesan cheese grated over the top and even some fresh basil or parsley before serving.
Happy Monday, and have a wonderful rest of your work week!
Garlic Parmesan Chicken Stew
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 yellow onion
4 celery stalks
2 sweet potatoes
1 1/2 – 2lb boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried basil
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1. Dice celery and onions. Peel and chop parsnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
2. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and diced onion, and saute for 4-5 minutes until onions are tender. Remove from heat and add to slow cooker.
3. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables to the slow cooker along with the chicken, broth, salt, pepper, and basil. Turn slow cooker on high for 4 hours until chicken can be easily shred with a fork and vegetables are tender. Use a fork to shred chicken into small pieces.
4. Add heavy cream or half and half to slow cooker. Add parmesan cheese to slow cooker. Allow to cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour. Taste, and add additional salt, pepper, or parmesan cheese to taste. Garnish with additional parmesan cheese grated over the top before serving.