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There are literally thousands of ways to make beef stew. I've made beef stew dozens of times and have never made it the same way twice. That's one of my favorite things about it, it's a flexible recipe that you can tweak based on what you're feeling like on that particular day.
I'd initially planned to make a more traditional beef stew for Sunday dinner. Rolling every piece of beef in a mix of cornstarch and spices so the broth would naturally and slowly thicken into a gravy over the course of the cooking. Unfortunately, I was a little exhausted when I woke up this morning. I'd spent most of the week out of town for work and hadn't gotten much sleep while I was gone. So I improvised and tried a different approach to handling the gravy.
I use cream of mushroom soup as the gravy base for a lot of quick Crockpot dinners, so I started with that for the base. Rather than spending time chopping fresh tomatoes for the stew, I added in tomato paste for the tomato flavor. Unfortunately that left me with less of a gravy and more of a thick glop. So I mixed in some water and a beef bullion cube and combined it with some traditional stew ingredients and put it in my small Crockpot for 10 hours.
It came out with a thick, delicious, spicy gravy that tasted great in the bread bowls that I'd bought for the stew.
You can use stew meat or stir-fry meat for this recipe. The bonus of the stir-fry meat is that the beef is spread out more so you'll get beef in more bites, the bonus of the stew meet is bigger pieces of beef. So pick your personal preference and go with it.