My recipe was inspired by a recipe from Mary Roe, a friend of a friend. Her version had only sweet potato and cranberries with the meat . I love winter vegetables, and thought that more vegetables could only make it better. This has some sweetness with the sweet potatoes, parsnips, cranberries, and cider. The salty base of the French Onion soup is a good balance.
1 to 2 pounds beef stew meat
1 leek, sliced thin
1 small to medium onion, sliced thin
4 to 6 parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 to 2 medium white potatoes, cubed (I used multi-colored new potatoes whole)
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
2 cans condensed French Onion soup
2 soup cans of water
1 soup can of apple cider
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
Heat a little olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. Add stew meat in a single layer and brown on all sides. Season with salt and pepper while browning. After well browned, remove meat and set aside. Add leek and onion to the pot and let cook till translucent. Add meat back to the pan, and add remaining vegetables. Stir to combine. Pour the cans of French Onion soup, water, and apple cider over top of meat and vegetables. Add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to the pot and stir to combine all. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce and simmer for a couple of hours. Test vegetables to make sure all are cooked tender. Serve with cornbread, or a dark crusty bread would also be good.
(My Ninja slow cooker has a stove-top setting, so I did the meat browning and assembling vegetables and liquid together on the high stove-top setting. Then I switched to slow cooking mode and cooked 4 hours on high slow-cook setting.)