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November 22, 2011

Quick and easy Scotch broth recipe


When I was a little girl, in the early 1960s, my mother stocked the pantry with the red-and-white soup cans we (and Andy Warhol) loved so much. Though chicken noodle soup topped my list, I also ate more than my share of Scotch Broth, a barley soup with small bits of lamb and perfectly-cubed carrots suspended in a thick base. A true Scotch broth should be made by simmering a hunk of lamb until it falls off the bone, then reducing the liquid to a rich stock, but who has the time or budget for that? Kathy and I decided to adapt the traditional for today's reality, by starting with a small amount of ground lamb to add the meaty flavor in a fraction of the time. It works -- and if you want to serve the soup in a red-and-white can for more 1960s authenticity, that's fine with us.

Quick and easy Scotch broth

Serves 4-6.


1/2 lb ground lamb
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 small carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 qt chicken stock (homemade or store-bought) + 2 cups water
8 oz mushrooms, sliced (I like cremini or portobello)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste


In a Dutch oven, brown the lamb in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Drain off the fat, and return the lamb to the pot. Add onion and carrots, and sauté for 1-2 minutes until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the thyme, and after 30 seconds, add the barley, stock and water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Add the sliced mushrooms, plus 2 additional cups of water. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until the carrots are cooked through. Taste, and season with kosher salt and black pepper. (If you've used store-bought stock, you might not need any salt.)

Serve hot, or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: pam | November 22, 2011 at 12:49 PM

I love Scoth Broth soup!!! Thanks for the tip on the ground lamb.

Posted by: Lydia | November 22, 2011 at 01:54 PM

Pam, this is much easier than boiling a leg of lamb all day just to make the broth! Enjoy.

Posted by: Satonahat | November 22, 2011 at 04:04 PM

I love ALL these ingredients - I'm making the soup NOW thanks it will totally hit the spot during the coming storm - happy thanksgiving

Posted by: Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) | November 22, 2011 at 04:26 PM

Satonahat, nothing better than soup to get through a storm. Let's just hope this storm is rain and not snow! Happy thanksgiving to you, too.

Posted by: Kalyn | November 23, 2011 at 10:34 AM

Love the idea of using ground lamb in this soup, and it has two of my favorite ingredients (lamb and barley!)

Posted by: Elle Hyson | November 23, 2011 at 05:48 PM

Happy Thanksgiving one and all

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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