Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Pat beef dry with a paper towel.
Add the beef in a single layer in the pot and cook for about 5 minutes, browning each side for about a minute. Do not crowd the meat in the pot. If not all the meat fits, brown half, and then repeat the process with the second half. Remove browned beef and set aside.
Add the olive oil and stir to coat the bottom of the pot.
Add the carrots, celery, and a pinch of salt and cook for 4 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the vegetables have lightly browned.
Add the garlic and other spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously to prevent the garlic from burning.
Add the beef and any juices back to the pot.
Sprinkle with the flour and stir for 3 minutes, until all the flour has dissolved.
Add one cup of the broth to deglaze the pot and scrape up all of the browned bits left by the beef and vegetables.
Add the remaining broth and sugar and bring to a boil.
Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour.
Add the potatoes, stir, regain the simmer, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the beef and potatoes are tender.
Discard the bay leaf, season with salt to taste, and serve warm.
Make this gluten free by replacing the flour with a gluten-free alternative like tapioca starch/flour.Don't crowd the pan. You want the stew meat to all fit in one layer so that it browns nicely. Take the extra five minutes to brown it in two different groups if necessary.Cut the potatoes in 1-inch cubes or larger so that they don't totally dissolve into the soup. You want the stew to still have large chunks of veggies and potatoes to bite into.Wait to cut potatoes until the stew is simmering the first time. Then you do not have to worry about them browning before they get added to the stew.