Comforting Irish Stew and the Best Soda Bread

There’s an old saying that there’s no language like the Irish for soothing. I’ll take it a step further and say the same about their food. St. Patrick’s Day and comfort food go hand in hand.

Like Irish stew. Meat, root vegetables and broth form the base of a hearty, uncomplicated, nourishing peasant stew.

I will tell you I’ve made this a couple of times and the gravy doesn’t get real thick. 

It’s because I used red and Yukon gold potatoes. A starchier potato, like a baker, would produce  thicker gravy. 

Slabs of fruited soda bread served warm from the oven alongside the stew will bring the luck o’ the Irish right to your table!   

Good and simple Irish stew

A little less, or more, of any one ingredient is OK. We like a splash of red wine vinegar added to each serving. 


2-1/2 pounds or so boneless chuck roast, trimmed a bit and cut into 2” chunks (or use stew meat already cut up)

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

2 nice yellow onions (not sweet onions), about 2#, cut into chunks

4-5 largish carrots, peeled and chunked up

1 quart beef broth, low salt, low fat, room temperature

4 tablespoons flour

2 pounds or so potatoes, peeled and cut into largish chunks


Preheat oven to 325.

Season meat with salt and pepper.

Film oven-proof pot with olive oil. Turn heat to medium high and brown meat, working in batches.

Set aside, then put onions and carrots in same pot and cook on medium heat until they start to color up a bit.

Meanwhile, whisk flour into broth.

Put meat back into pot with vegetables.

Pour broth over, give a good stir, and bring to a simmer.

Put lid on and place in oven. Bake until meat is very tender. This took 1-1/2 hours in my oven. The longer chuck roast and stew meat cooks, the more tender it becomes.

Remove from oven. Give stew another stir. Adjust seasonings.

Serves 6 generously.

Moist and buttery Irish soda bread

I use my food processor, but you can use a mixer or do it by hand. I share this recipe just about every year, it’s that popular.


2 cups all-purpose flour 

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 heaping cup dried cherries, raisins, cranberries or favorite dried fruit 

1 cup regular sour cream

Melted butter for brushing

Coarse sugar (opt but good)


Preheat oven to 375. Place piece of parchment on cookie sheet and spray parchment. 

Mix flour, soda, salt, sugar and butter until crumbly. Add cherries. Toss to combine. Blend in sour cream. Form into mound-shaped circle about 6 inches wide and 2 or so inches tall. If it’s sticky, dust hands with flour, 

Place on cookie sheet and make a cross on top.

Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. 

Bake 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Check after 40 minutes. 

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