Welcome home, Jamie and Claire! Together forever, right?
Of course, Jenny has a few things to say to her long lost brother before they sit down for a sup and a bite to eat…good thing she put that pot of broth on to cook before J&C appeared in the dooryard.
Scotch Broth appeared under that name in cookbooks for the first time in the latter part of the 18th Century, though variations of this thick, hearty, stew-like soup had been cooking in cast iron kettles across the Highlands for hundreds of years before that.
My meaty version is definitely from a wealthier kitchen, like Lallybroch, rather than made by one of the Fraser’s crofters, who would have felt fortunate to have a bone to put in the pot, never mind meat.
A traditional Scotch Broth starts with lamb. Lamb can be difficult to find, and once you do, it’s often expensive. I came across these shoulder chops when I was out shopping in the BIG city one day. They were crammed in the back of a frozen food case, looking freezer burned and a bit beyond their time.
Perfect for soup! So, I went and knocked on the glass above he the meat case to catch the butcher’s attention. When I showed him my chops, he slapped a 50% off sticker on there and I left a happy, frugal chef. He knew he was lucky to get half of the original $12 price, so he was a happy butcher.
If you can’t find lamb, then use beef. To be honest, more farmers had cattle in the Highlands than sheep before Culloden, so you certainly won’t lose any authenticity either.
Next up is the veggies, and a Scotch Broth is chock full of them! This time of year was the leanest in the Highlands, as the winter kale crop failed before the farmers’ early spring plantings of kale and spinach were ready for harvest.
My kale crop from last year is no different. I’ve got just 3 plants left, and they’ve all bolted to seed in the last week. That means my kale is a little tough, but that’s balanced by the appearance of the flowering heads, which are gorgeous lightly sauteed in olive oil, and also make a beautiful garnish.
Soup doesn’t get much heartier than this! A pot of this will feed a couple for a week…trust me. My Englishman and I are living proof.
A loaf of Honey-Buttermilk Oat Bread from Madame Jeanne’s tastes great alongside.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
: A soup so hearty, you could call it a stew. Delicious and full of goodness, it’s great way to use up the last of the produce from the winter garden.
Yield: Serves 8, with leftovers
- Lamb Flank, Breast or Shank – 2 lbs (see notes)
- Split Peas – ½ Cup
- Pot or Pearl Barley – ½ Cup
- Leeks, white and light green only, split, washed and sliced thinly – 2 large
- Carrots, shredded – 2 medium
- Turnip or Rutabaga, diced – 1 Cup
- Kale or Savoy Cabbage, finely shredded – 2 Cups
- Salt – 2 tsp, or to taste
- Parsley, chopped – for garnish
In a large pot, cover the lamb with 2 quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Allow to boil 1 minute, and skim the scum from the surface. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the peas, barley, half the leeks and half the carrots. Simmer until the peas and barley are tender, about 1 hour.
Add the remaining leeks and carrots, as well as the turnip and 2 cups of hot water. Simmer until turnip is tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove the meat, discard any bones and gristle, then shred and return the meat to the pot. Stir in the kale or cabbage and season to taste.
Garnish with the parsley, and serve hot with a loaf of crusty bread.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to a month. Add a little more water if needed when you reheat.
- If you prefer to use beef, or simply can’t find lamb, choose a similar tough cut. Flank, shin, shank, blade, etc.
- Beef will result in a milder tasting soup.
- Do not add salt at the beginning, as it will toughen the peas as they cook.
- Most early recipes for Scotch Broth call for 2 tablespoons of salt to be added at the end. I added a tablespoon to ours when all was said and done, but start with less and add more to taste.