My version is:
* 1-ounce dried shitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped (next time i'll use 2 oz)
* 1 quart home made veggie stock, divided
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 4 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 1 red onion, chopped, chopped into bite sized pieces
* 1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
* 3 to 4 celery stalks, cut into bite sized pieces
* 2 anaheim peppers, chopped
* 2 small red bell peppers, seeded and chopped into bite sized pieces
* 2 eggplants, peeled of half the skin, cut into bite-sized cubes
* 1 bay leaf
* Salt and pepper
* 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar (divided)
* 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)
* 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
* 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
* 1 cup polenta
* 2 teaspoons agave nectar
* 2 tablespoons Earth Balance
Place dried mushrooms and 2 cups veggie stock in a small pot over medium-low heat (add more stock if using more mushrooms).
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a Dutch oven or high sided skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add garlic, crushed pepper, onions, carrots, celery, peppers, and eggplant to the pot as you chop them. Add the bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and cover the pot to sweat the vegetables out a little faster. Stir occasionally for 10 to 20 minutes then uncover and add the balsamic vinegar.
Remove the reconstituted dried mushrooms to the pot with a slotted spoon. Pour in all but the last few tablespoons of mushroom stock. The last of the stock can hold a little loose grit from the dried mushrooms. Add tomatoes and break up with a wooden spoon. Simmer over low heat the last few minutes before serving. Adjust salt and pepper and add remaining balsamic vinegar. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Heat the remaining 2 cups stock with 1 cup unsweetened soymilk, and rosemary over medium high heat. Whisk in polenta and stir frequently until thickened probably 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in agave nectar and Earth Balance.
Pile some polenta in shallow bowls and spoon the stew around the polenta.
While this is a 30-minute meal, i found that it really did well with the added cooking time. OMG - It is heavenly.