|Not the prettiest soup, but it does stick to your ribs|
I have a whole lamb in my freezer. No, not the whole carcass, but a whole lot of cuts of lamb. It was about 50 lbs. of cut lamb with some cuts that you don’t usually find in the supermarket or even your local butcher. Things like lamb breast and neck slices. There isn’t a lot of meat on neck slices but they are full of rich flavor. Time to make some soup!
There isn’t a lot of meat in this. This is how those thrifty Scots stretched a little bit of meat. As I said, I used neck slices, but a meaty lamb bone from a leg of lamb roast would work great too. Just make sure there is some meat left on it to throw into the soup. It’s full of vegetables and it gets its heft from a bit of barley and some yellow split peas. Great for a wet, chilly day. They have a lot of those in Scotland, I’m told.
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ pounds meaty lamb bones, like neck slices or a leftover roast
11 cups water (use only 10 cups if using fresh rather than dried onions)
¼ cup pearl barley
½ cup dry yellow split peas, picked over and washed
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into medium dice
½ cup dried minced onions or 2 onions, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown lamb. You may need to do it in 2 batches because you’ll get better browning if you don’t crowd the pieces. Add back all the lamb pieces. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for another 1 hour 30 minutes until the split peas are tender. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Remove the meaty bones to a bowl and allow to cool somewhat so you can get the meat off of them. If you are using neck slices, your hands will be the best tool for this. Coarsely chop any large pieces and add the lamb meat back to the soup. Simmer for another 5 minutes to reheat lamb and serve with a crusty bread.
Note: there is a fair bit of fat on lamb. If the fat bugs you, refrigerate the soup. Once it’s cold, you can scrape the fat off the top of the soup. I love the richness of the fat and this soup is fairly lean, so I leave it.