This stew was a big hit, the kids loved the dumplings especially. For the carnivores out there, this is great with chicken in place of potatoes.
Potato, Leek and Fennel Stew with Whole Wheat Dumplings
12-15 small or 6-8 large leeks
3 fennel bulbs
12-18 small yukon gold, fingerling, or new red potatoes
3-4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups vegetable broth
5 sprigs thyme
Wash potatoes and place in slow cooker. Cut leeks into 1 inch rounds and soak in cool water to remove any soil. Drain and rinse. Remove tough base, stalks and fronds from fennel bulbs, cut in half lengthwise and cut each half into ½ inch slices. Rinse with cool water. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan, then add leeks and fennel, saute until lightly browned (may need to do this in two batches, this will be a large volume of raw vegetables, but will cook way down). Place leek mixture in slow cooker with potatoes. Return pan to stove and add 2 tbsp. Oil. Add flour to oil and whisk until just starting to brown, then add the vegetable broth and continue whisking until thick. Place thyme sprigs over vegetables in slow cooker, then pour the sauce over all. Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours. Then add the dumplings:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Canola oil
about 2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk or milk (start with 1/2 cup and add more until it looks right)
Stir oil into dry ingredients until crumbly, then stir in the milk until just moist. Drop by large spoonful onto top of stew, turn slow cooker up to high and cook for 5 minutes uncovered. Replace lid and cook an additional 30 minutes.