Instant Pot French Onion Quinoa and Beef Stew

The crossover recipe to end all crossover recipes….. this stew! Yes, I know that wasn’t a complete sentence. Two of my favorite winter meals are french onion soup and beef stew, and I never really thought of combining them until now. I’d say french onion is my top choice, but it’s frustrating that it never feels like a complete meal. It could be that it’s lacking variety in vegetables, there’s not really any protein, etc. So, I created a cross between the two comfort food recipes, added some quinoa for nuttiness and extra volume, and fully lost it when I tasted the first bite. It was that good.

This recipe is made in the Instant Pot, so it’s relatively quick and easy. The steps can be a bit confusing if you don’t read through the instructions fully, so make sure you actually pay attention before beginning the recipe. But, as long as you read everything, you’ll be left with a delicious, wholesome cold-weather dinner in under an hour. Let’s make it!

Ingredients needed to make Instant Pot French Onion Quinoa and Beef Stew

This stew has a fair amount of ingredients, which is part of the reason the flavors are so complex. I would not recommend leaving anything out. Here’s the full list:

  • Avocado oil
  • Beef stew meat
  • Yellow onions
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • Water
  • Tomato paste
  • Carrots
  • Quinoa
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Fresh thyme
  • Sharp cheddar or goat’s milk cheddar cheese
  • Fresh parsley
  • Toasted bread or croutons

Tools used to make Instant Pot French Onion Quinoa and Beef Stew

As mentioned above, this recipe is made almost entirely in the Instant Pot. If you don’t have an Instant Pot but feel comfortable in the kitchen, you could absolutely try making this on the stovetop or even in a slow-cooker. I did not test the recipe using those methods, so I can’t provide specific instructions. However, it will certainly work as long as you adjust the cooking time accordingly (the Instant Pot works much faster than other methods, so any other method take longer to achieve the same beef tenderness and depth of flavor).

I use the Instant Pot Duo Nova 6-qt, linked here. I absolutely love it. I was NOT a gadget-lover in the kitchen until I bought one of these on a whim, and I promise you- it’s life changing. Other than the Instant Pot itself, you’ll want to gather a few more kitchen items to make this recipe a breeze: a cutting board, a sharp knife, a pair of tongs, measuring cups and spoons, aluminum foil, a rimmed baking sheet, and a stirring utensil. I prefer to use my favorite wooden spoon for stirring, as it’s the perfect length for reaching the bottom of the Instant Pot. That’s it!

How to make Instant Pot French Onion Quinoa and Beef Stew

This stew is not difficult to make, but it does require a few extra steps to ensure everything is cooked to perfection. It drives me nuts when I make a soup and the meat turns out too tough/chewy while the vegetables are so soft they’re falling apart, so I made sure that didn’t happen with this stew. To achieve the perfect tenderness for both the beef and the vegetables, we actually pressure cook the stew twice. The first time, it’s just for the beef, while the second time is for the vegetables and quinoa. It sounds fussy, but I promise it doesn’t take any extra time than if we were to make this on the stove!

You’ll begin by trimming the beef of any fat or cartilage, then cut down any very large pieces. The stew meat should come already cubed, but sometimes there are a few wild pieces that need to be cut in half. Aim for approximately 1-inch pieces of beef.

Once the beef is trimmed, we’ll work in batches to sear it on all sides using the Sauté feature on the Instant Pot. Working in batches is key to ensure our meat gets browned and crispy. If we tried to sear all of the beef at once, the pan would be overcrowded and no browning would occur. Remember: browning= flavor.

Once we’ve seared the beef, we’ll add all of the thinly sliced onions and shallots, garlic, and a little red wine to deglaze the Pot. It’s very important to scrape up all of the caramelized bits that stuck to the Pot as we seared the beef, as those provide amazing flavor in our stew. Once the onions and garlic have absorbed much of the wine and are becoming tender, we’ll transfer them to a plate and return the beef to the Pot.

Next, add a splash of beef broth and start the first round of pressure cooking. The first round takes about 35 minutes start-to-finish, including time for the Pot to pressurize, cook, and then release the pressure. While the beef cooks for the first round, we can prepare the carrots, herbs, and quinoa.

You’ll want to cut the carrots into uniform pieces, each about 1/2 inch thick. Gather your fresh herb sprigs, rinse your quinoa, and maybe even have a glass of wine while you wait.

Once the beef is finished the first round of pressure cooking, we’ll go ahead and add the par-cooked onions and garlic, quinoa, carrots, fresh herbs, and remaining beef broth to the Pot. Close the lid again, and pressure cook the entire stew one final time. We’ll only be cooking it for 2 minutes, however this second round of cooking takes more like 15 minutes start-to-finish, including time for the Pot to pressurize again, cook, and then release the remaining pressure.

Once the stew has finished cooking, taste it for salt and pepper, then season accordingly. Turn your oven to Broil and ladle the soup into oven-safe bowls or crocks. At this point, you can top the soup however you see fit. I love to use a piece of toast and freshly shredded goat’s milk cheddar cheese, while Jeff prefers to top his with salad croutons. Alternatively, this stew is excellent served over mashed potatoes, or eaten as-is. You can absolutely customize it and have a delicious meal!

Looking for other soup recipes?

Try these from The Ardent Cook!

Herbed Chicken Tortellini Soup

Chipotle Peanut Pumpkin Soup with Spiced Pepitas

Potato, Leek, and Corn Chowder

Recipe Ingredients

1 tbsp avocado oil

1.5 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 medium shallots, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup red wine

One 32oz container beef broth, divided

1 cup water

2 tbsp Tomato paste

3 medium carrots, cut into ½ inch pieces

¾ cup quinoa, rinsed

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 sprigs fresh thyme

Toast or croutons, for serving

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for serving

Fresh parsley, chopped, for serving

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Trim beef of any fat or cartilage and ensure there are no excessively large pieces. Each cube should be roughly 1-inch in size. Season the beef on all sides with salt and black pepper. Turn Instant Pot to “Sauté” and sear the beef, working in batches to avoid crowding the pot. 
  2. Once all the beef has been seared on both sides, remove it from the pot and add the onions. Stir to coat in the beef drippings and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions begin to take on some color. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Stir in the red wine to deglaze the Instant Pot. The onions and garlic will soak up some of the wine and start to become tender. Cook for 2-3 minutes until most of the wine has been absorbed by the onions or evaporated, then transfer the mixture to a bowl. 
  4. Add the beef back into the Instant Pot along with ¼ cup beef broth. Close the lid and ensure the vent is in the “Sealing” position. Turn the Instant Pot to “Pressure Cook” and then “High Pressure.” Set the timer for 20 minutes and let it go. Once the time is up, let the Pot naturally release pressure for 10 minutes, then carefully quick-release the remaining steam by opening the vent. 
  5. To the Pot with the cooked beef, add the water, par-cooked onions, quinoa, carrots, herbs, tomato paste, and remaining beef broth. Return the lid to the Pot and follow the same process as above to pressurize the Pot, this time setting the timer for 2 minutes. Let the soup pressure cook once more, allowing for 5 minutes of natural release once the time is up. After 5 minutes, quick-release the steam and safely take the lid off. 
  6. Turn your oven to broil and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls or crocks and top with a piece of toast or handful of croutons, followed by the shredded cheddar. Place the filled crocks onto the lined baking sheet and broil for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden brown. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy hot!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

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