Florentine Tomato – Based Beef Stew (Stracotto alla Fiorentina)


Courtesy of Fina Scroppo, 
author of "The Healthy Italian"


  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ lbs (680 g) extra-lean beef stewing meat, cut into 1-inch/2.5 cm cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 cup canned Gigi whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can (5.5 oz/156 mL) no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1½ cups diced celery
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves, or 1 tsp dried sage
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Italian herb seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cubed sweet potato
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch


In a large stock pot, heat olive oil under high heat. Pat meat dry and add it to pot; stir continuosly until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add onions and garlic. Stir continuosly, scraping up the bottom brown bits, about 2 minutes. Stir in wine, tomatoes and tomato paste until well combined. Add beef broth, water, celery (it’s your choiced how big or small you dice it), sage, bay leaves, Italian herb seasoning, and black pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for one and a half hours. Add sweet potatoes, carrots and parsley during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

Combine cornstarch with 2 tbsp water, stir and add into the stew. Simmer for 5 minutes to thicken stew, remove and discard bay leaves and serve. I like this smothered over brown rice or whole wheat couscous but it’s also great over whole grain or spelt pasta or a slice of sweet potato polenta.

MAKE AHEAD: Because extra-lean cuts of beef can vary in tenderness and texture, the longer they simmer the more fall-apart delicious they become. Make this stew the day before and heat it up just before serving.


Extra-lean beef offer an excellent source of protein similar to white meat, but loean beef has less cholesterol than many poultry pieces and similar amounts of fat. This stew uses chuncks of extra-lean beef instead of whole beef rump or chuck roast, which is typically wrapped in pancetta and herbs, seared, then slowly braised. Here, we’ve left out the fatty pancetta, but you won’t miss it- the bounty of herbs and spices makes up for it, while the sweet potato adss a welcome sweetness.