scotch broth

scotch brothWhen the mercury drops, I turn to hearty soups and stews.  At first glance, Scotch broth sounds more like a thin liquid to be slurped from a spoon.  But don’t be fooled by the name; this stew is thick and so satisfying.   Like most stews, it contains vegetables and meat and is thickened with barley, and split peas. Originating in Scotland (1600s), Scotch broth is traditionally made with mutton or lamb giving the stew its rich flavour.  You can use beef, but the taste will not be the same.

Scotch broth became popular in the USA during the late 1880s.  It was so popular that soup brands such as Campbell’s and Heinz began including it in their lineup.  As a young adult, I LOVED the canned version, especially with a grilled cheese sandwich.  I have made this stew before and thought for sure I had posted a recipe.  Oh well, better late than never.

you will need

454g (1 lb) boneless lamb shoulder, chopped into bite-size chunks and trimmed of any fat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup dried green split peas
3 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
1 large carrot, chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 small turnip, peeled and chopped


Grab a large baggie and add 1/2 cup flour. To that bag add half of the lamb chunks. Seal and shake until all pieces are lightly dusted with flour.  Remove the meat from the bag and add it to a large bowl. Repeat until all the lamb is coated in flour. Over medium-high heat, add olive oil to a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot.  Add the lamb and cook until the meat is browned all over (5  or so min).  Depending on how big your pot is, you may need to cook the lamb in batches so you don’t overcrowd the meat.  Overcrowding will result in steamed meat with a greyish colour.

Remove cooked meat from the pot and place in a large bowl  In the same pot add a splash of olive oil and add onions.  When onions begin to soften add garlic and rosemary.  Stir until fragrant.  Then add bay leaves, barley, split peas, and broth.  Stir, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pot.  Now add the lamb.   Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours.  Occasionally stir the pot.  Once two hours are up, add the carrot, turnip, and parsnip.  Simmer for 45 minutes or until the turnip is soft.

If the stew is getting too thick, add more chicken stock.  When the stew is cooked, do a taste test and see if any salt or pepper needs adding.  Then squeeze half a lime over the stew and stir.  Citrus such as lemons or limes added at the end cuts through any fat and elevates the dish.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

the culinary chase’s note:

Don’t worry about bits stuck to the pot during the browning process.  This is where the flavour lives!  Enjoy!