Civil War Beef Stew

My son loves history. It is his thing. He will talk American history for hours. This year he is taking AP United States History. As part of his class they were required to make an authentic Civil War recipe. His teacher helped him find a recipe that did not involve hunting a rabbit or squirrel or trying to create some ridiculous dish from modern items. The story of the stew was interesting.

If you have a few minutes hop over and read “Civil War Cooking: What the Union Soldiers Ate,” on (click for link to original recipe and article) .  It is really a great read on how they fed the soldiers during the war.


This stew was “different.” It used salt, pepper, and vinegar for flavor. Root vegetables were plentiful in the northern area of the Midwest which is where the troops were based that he had to make a dish for. The turnips, carrots, potatoes, onion, leeks, and parsnips were the vegetables that were used. It created a chowder type feel to the dish. If you didn’t know it had beef in it you would have thought it was some kind of chowder.

As my son said it was far from the worst thing served at their meal. He loved the catfish with homemade ketchup, the Dolly Madison cake, and the homemade fruit cake. He thought the hard tack, coffee, and the Johnny cakes were less than desirable. I think this is such a great idea and may try a few recipes from different time periods. Maybe not an authentic Thanksgiving dinner but maybe a Victorian tea? Who knows.

Civil War Beef Stew

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A simple hearty stew similar to what would have been served during the Civil War ear.


  • 2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 quarts water
  • 4 -6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cubed into 1″ cubes
  • 2 turnips, peeled and cubed into 1″ cubes
  • 1 leek, trimmed, sliced, and rinsed clean
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon + white vinegar


  1. Dry the beef off and salt and pepper the meat. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the meat and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently until well browned on the outside but not cooked through.
  2. Transfer the browned meat to a large pot and cover with 3 quarts of water. Bring water and meat to a boil. Skim the fat that rises to the surface.
  3. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips and sliced leek to the pot.
  4. In a bowl whisk together the flour with 1/2 cup cold water to smooth. Stir the mixture into the stew pot. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Let the stew simmer for 3 1/2 hours, stirring every half hour or so and skimming any fat that rises to the top. If the stew becomes too thick over time, you can add additional liquid to thin it out as needed.
  6. At the end of cooking, the meat should be very tender and the sauce very thick. Remove pan from heat and stir in the vinegar. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. foodzesty says:

    Happy New Year and best wishes to you and your family. Great recipe!! 🙂 Sophie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. koolaidmoms says:

      Thank you so very much!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tikeetha T says:

    Happy New Year! LOL, it was different? Does that mean good?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. koolaidmoms says:

      Yeah, but not what I was expecting. More of a bland taste but with bits of veggies were where the taste came from. Root veggies are NOT my favorite but the vinegar made it palatable for me. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is priceless Marci! What a great kid


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