Vegetarian Polka Dot Stew Recipe
Vegetarian Polka Dot Stew Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Vegetarian Polka Dot Stew Recipe

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“Here’s a speedy and satisfying version of traditional minestrone soup. The fun polka-dot shapes of the couscous, baby carrots and black beans give this stew its name.” -Teagan O'Toole, Boston, Massachusetts
TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
MAKES:5 servings
Quick Contest Winning Test Kitchen Approved
TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
MAKES: 5 servings


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl (Israeli) couscous
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cans (19 ounces each) ready-to-serve tomato soup
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese

Nutritional Facts

1-1/2 cups (calculated without cheese) equals 309 calories, 2 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 879 mg sodium, 60 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber, 14 g protein.


  1. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in the couscous, carrots, tomato, onion and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until tender and water is absorbed. Stir in the remaining ingredients; heat through. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 5 servings.
Editor’s Note: You may substitute 1 cup quick-cooking barley for the couscous if desired.
Originally published as Vegetarian Polka Dot Stew in Taste of Home October/November 2009, p63

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Reviewed Apr. 2, 2013

"This recipe took seconds to make and is delicious. I couldn't believe how good and healthy it was. My husband said he liked it better the next day after the flavors married a bit. Any time I can get my husband to eat and like a vegetarian meal, is a battle won on healthy vs. husband :)"

Reviewed Jan. 24, 2012

"This recipe is good. I cooked it in a slow cooker by putting all the ingredients in except the couscous and water. I doubled the beans and added two 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes. The cooked couscous was added later."

Reviewed Jun. 3, 2010

"I cook for a family of four twice a week... they seriously ask me to make it at least one of the nights EVERY WEEK! haha! this recipe is easy and always turns out perfect for me.

i make sure to use "pearled" cous cous every time to make it more polka-dot-like."

Reviewed Feb. 20, 2010

"Excellent meal for a weeknight. To up the appeal for my (decidedly non-vegetarian) husband, I served this over roughly crushed tortilla chips. The fresh-grated parmesan cheese over the top is a perfect finishing touch."

Reviewed Feb. 18, 2010

"Enjoyed this stew, but there is likely enough salt from the tomato soup that you don't need to add more. I used chicken broth to cook the couscous, so it was not vegetarian (but nice an rich) at our house. The children all enjoyed this stew as well the adults."

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