How to cook Scotch Broth

Here in New Zealand we are heading into winter. So it’s time to bring you a few winter warmers.

I recently bought the book Lobel’s Meat Bible: All you need to know about Meat and Poultry from America’s Master Butchers. It’s a great read with very approachable meat recipes. Too often with American cook books the ingredients are not to my liking or they don’t quite match up with what’s available here in New Zealand. The recipes in this book are appetising and sensible – they concentrate on good cuts of meat and aren’t obsessed with over-generous portions. I recommend it.

So to the recipe for Scotch Broth. It’s the first recipe in the ‘lamb’ section. As you might expect it’s a soup, but it’s hardly a broth…more like a meat porridge. It’s a very hearty soup that can easily substitute for a whole meal. Serve it with big chunky pieces of bread, or even (and this is my idea) on a bed of rice.

If you search for Scotch Broth recipes they all have pretty much the same ingredients: lamb (a cheap cut), leeks, split peas, barley, carrot. That’s about the sum total.

I cooked this because after having guests around one Friday evening on Saturday morning we discovered the freezer door had been left open and so all the meat had defrosted. Either I had to throw it out or cook it up. Guess what we did all day Saturday?


  • 1 kg of lamb chops or meaty chunks of lamb neck (I used lamb chops.Leave the fat on and it certainly adds to the flavour)
  • 5 litres cold water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup of yellow or green split peas
  • 1/2 cup of pearl barley (rinsed)
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 large leeks chopped (don’t use the dark green part)
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 small turnip (I used parsnip instead and put 2 in the pot diced)
  • 1/2 head of a small cabbage either chunked or sliced
  • ground pepper to taste
  • chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish


Place the lamb, water and bay leaf into a heavy and large pot and turn the heat up high. As it comes to the boil skim off any impurities – you’ll get this foamy stuff from the lamb. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer (as low as you can) and stir in the barley and split peas. Cook for one hour, skimming occasionally. Stir in the onions, leeks, carrots, parsnip (turnip) and cabbage. Cook for one more hour.

Turn off the heat and remove all the lamb to a bowl until you can comfortably handle it. Shred the meat off the bone discarding the excess fat (I left the fat in). Return all the lamb to the pot, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a reasonable simmer until the broth thickens. You need it somewhere between a soup and a porridge in consistency. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Stir in another few teaspoons of salt or more to taste, along with some black pepper. Ladle into bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

It’s a great dish to make well in advance as the taste will be improved with age and resting.

The meat before shredding
The meat before shredding
The shredded lamb chops ready to be returned to the pot
The shredded lamb chops ready to be returned to the pot
Scotch broth - the final dish
Scotch broth - the final dish

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.