In a large saucepan, combine lamb or beef, beef broth, onions, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to boiling, and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Skim off the fat.
Add the potatoes, carrots, dried thyme and basil. Bring to boiling, and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes more or till vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf and discard.
Stir together the cold water and flour. Stir into the stew. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Garnish with the thyme, if you like.