Buying a large piece of beef chuck and portioning it at home instead of buying cubed stew meat is a great way to infuse more flavor in to this hearty meal.
In a large bowl, toss beef with flour; season with salt and pepper. In a large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Working in two batches, shake off excess flour, and sear beef on all sides until browned, 8 to 10 minutes (use more oil for second batch, if needed). Transfer beef to a plate, and set aside (reserve pot).
Add onion, celery, and garlic to pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine, and cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until liquid is reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes.
Return browned beef to pot. Stir in tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, 2 hours. (If liquid reduces too quickly, add a little more water.)
With tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a large bowl. Pass remaining contents of pot through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl; discard solids. Return beef and strained liquid to pot; stir in winter vegetables. Simmer over medium-low, partially covered, until beef and vegetables are fork-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more, stirring occasionally.
Searing the beef to a deep brown on all sides takes a bit of patience, but the reward is a deeply flavored stew.