Winter veg & bean stew with cheddar dumplings

Ready in 3 hours 30 minutes

4 tbsp rapeseed oil
400g shallots, halved if large
6 carrots, thickly sliced
2 leeks, thickly sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
40g plain flour
600ml vegetable stock
2 x 400g cans butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or good pinch of dried
4 tbsp double cream or crème fraîche
2 tsp Dijon mustard
150g chopped kale

For the dumplings:
100g self-raising flour
50g chilled butter, chopped
100g Cheddar, grated

1 Heat half the oil in a large frying pan, add the shallots and carrots. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and drop into the slow cooker. Add the remaining oil and cook the leek and garlic for 2 minutes. Scatter over the flour, stir and cook for 2 minutes.

2 Add the stock, bring to the boil while stirring all the time and simmer for a couple of minutes until smooth. Pour into the slow cooker along with the beans and thyme. Cover and cook on high for 11⁄2 hours.

3 To make the dumplings, place the flour in a bowl, add the butter and rub together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the cheese and add 4-5 tbsp cold water to make a soft, sticky dough.

4 Stir the cream and mustard into the stew and then stir in the kale. Top with spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture, cover and cook for 1 to 11⁄2 hours until the dumplings have risen and are firm. Serve straight away.

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