Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
Add the beef stew meat to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned; about 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove beef stew meat from pot and transfer to a plate; set aside.
Add diced onion and carrots to the pot.
Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender; about 5 minutes or so.
Return the meat to the pot.
Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add peas and tomatoes; stir and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in broth, bay leaf, and thyme.
Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf.
Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
Ladle into bowls.