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Scotch Broth

Scotch Broth

This hearty, warming soup has a long and honourable history. As early as the C17th, Boswell, in his recollections of the life of Dr Johnson, recounts that the good doctor ate several platefuls of it . It is alleged that in answer to the enquiry " You never ate it before?" Johnson replied " No sir, but I don't care how soon I eat it again". In 1881 The Household Cyclopedia gives a U.S.A. recipe version proving it's also well travelled ! Originally the meat in this dish would be removed ( post cooking) and served as a separate course but today it is returned to the pot to make a satisfying one dish meal. Traditionally Scotch Broth was particularly popular in Winter months and especially on New Year's Day. Now it's popular all year round. The other beauty of this dish is that it tastes even better when made a day in advance and reheated - then all the flavours have time to fully develop!


900 grams ( 2lb) lamb ( an inexpensive cut like neck)

2 litres ( 3& 1/2 pints ) water or stock

100/125 grams (4oz) pearl barley

100/125 grams (4oz) dried peas ( previously soaked overnight and drained)

I bouquet garni

I large leek - chopped

1 medium onion - chopped

1 or 2 small turnips( in Scotland "neeps")

2 medium carrots - chopped

100/125 grams. (4 oz) cabbage ( optional)

salt & pepper to taste.

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

To make :

Place meat in a large pan.

Add water ( stock) barley,peas , salt ,pepper bring to boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for two hours.

Add vegetables except for cabbage and simmer for another hour.

If meat was not boned - remove with slotted spoon allow to cool then remove bones and return meat to pot.

Add cabbage and simmer for another thirty minutes.

Garnish with Parsley

Serve with potatoes or crusty bread.

More Classic British Recipes?

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