2 cups sloppy joe broth
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup diced celery
1 cup mixed cherry tomatoes
1 pound beef stew meat
Pour 2 cups sloppy joe broth into a crockpot. Turn it on High.
If the onion and celery are not already diced, do that now. Add them to the crockpot. Put in the beef stew meat.
Cover the crockpot and ignore for about 2 hours. Don't open it this early, it needs time to build up heat.
After 2 hours, put in the mixed cherry tomatoes. Stir everything together.
Cover and ignore for another 2 hours. If your crockpot runs hot, you might want to check it; if it's boiling, turn it down to Low.
The stew is done when the meat and vegetables are tender. The tomatoes should be starting to burst, but don't cook so long that they turn into slush. That's why they go in later, because they don't take as much time to cook.
I've been making sloppy joe filling for years. As the vegetables cook down, they release a lot of liquid. I had been skimming it off and simply throwing it away. This summer it occurred to me to save some for use as cooking liquid. That's why the stew has no spices: they're all in the broth already. If you don't have sloppy joe broth, you can substitute a spiced version of V-8 juice. Alternatively, combine tomato juice with a little bit of barbecue sauce.
You can put in whatever vegetables you want. I made this because we had an onion, half a carton of diced celery, and half a carton of cherry tomatoes that we needed to use up. If you have sun-dried tomatoes, definitely use those. Mushrooms or potatoes would also work great. If your sloppy joe base is vegetarian or vegan, you can make the stew the same way. Fry up some firm tofu and throw that in at the last minute, if you like.
A variety of meat should work with this. Beef is what I usually used for sloppy joes and what I had in stew meat, so that's what I put in this stew. Lamb or pork should also work. Chicken might, if you like tomato-based chicken.
I thought about adding a thickener, but I didn't want to experiment with too many new things at once. The most obvious choice would be a 6 oz. can of tomato paste, or more if you want it thicker. You could also add barley, orzo, or some other grain-based ingredient.