13 March, 2011

Scotch Broth

Despite my preference for homemade soups, there have always been a couple of "easy soups" the family and I enjoy.  One of these was Campbell's Scotch Broth, a very hearty barley soup made with lamb.

Unfortunately, Campbell's recently made a business decision to discontinue several of their soups which were based on relatively costly ingredients so they could concentrate on their various chicken noodle soups marketed at kids and based around their cheap and crappy chicken broth.  That's why, if you're a fan of Campbell's Lentil Soup or Bean With Bacon, you might be having trouble finding them since they're getting pushed aside for the astounding eleven varieties of chicken noodle swill aimed directly at kids.  (Seriously, Campbell's, does the market really need Disney Princess Soup?  Disney Pixar Cars Soup?  Spongebob Squarepants Soup?  Give me a damn break.)

Anyway, Scotch Broth is gone from the American market.  It's still available in Canada, so maybe I'll take a drive up to Quebec sometime and smuggle some back.  Until then, I'll have to be satisfied with making my own.

Scotch Broth
Makes about 2 quarts

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds of meaty lamb neck bones (see note)
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
6 whole peppercorns
1½ cups of barley
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

Lamb neck bones have a lot of muttonylicious flavor with a decent charge of meat, but they aren't always easy to find.  You can substitute a couple of cheap lamb shoulder chops or a shank if you prefer.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch Oven and add the lamb bones. Over medium heat (be careful not to scorch the oil) brown the lamb well on all sides.  Add the onions and the carrots and stir over the heat until the onions are amber and translucent.  Pour in about two quarts of water (enough to cover the bones well and bring the soup to a simmer, adding the parsley, bay leaves and peppercorns.  Simmer for about four hours to make a very rich lamb stock, adding water now and then as needed.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a full rolling boil in a separate pot.  Pour in the barley and simmer it for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the barley is plump and tender but still somewhat chewy.  Drain the barley well and then rinse it in cold running water to shock it from cooking further.  Put the cooked barley aside (perhaps in the refrigerator) until needed for the soup.

Back to the lamb stock:  When the meat is soft and falling off the bones, remove the stock from the heat.  Take out the bones and discard them, returning the meat to the pot.  Bring the stock back up to a simmer and add the barley, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot.


C. said...

Is there a full list of Campbell's soup somewhere?

Dave said...

Campbell's website lists the soups they currently offer, but they make it difficult to compile because they break it down into so many categories. Click here and you'll see what I mean.

Also, there is no list anywhere of discontinued soups.

Michelle_Randy said...

OMG, Bean with Bacon is going away?! Those b*st**ds!!

Edward Dexter said...

Alas, I checked with Campbell's Canada, and they won't ship to the US for some reason. SO, needing a Scotch Broth fix, I am trying this recipe tomorrow. - Dexter in Baltimore.

violet4ever said...

I made it today (neckbones and shoulder chop). Only change I made was it looked so clear I added 2 tbsp Wondra flour w/ water (mixed to a thin mixture) to the soup in the last 1/2 hour. I worried about my ability to salt and pepper to taste but amazingly it came out great! My first from-scratch soup ever. My fiance and I are always missing Campbells Scotch Broth, especially in the winter, and this was not just very close but actually a bit better!!

Unknown said...

You can get it on E-bay, but it costs a bit.

Unknown said...

Excellent recipe, and as violet4ever noted, even better than the original Campbell's. I did make a couple of variations, however, the first being to presoak the barley and cook for over an hour in the soup as I prefer soft, not chewy, barley.

Next, I prepared lamb stock ahead using a pressure cooker. Place 4 - 4 1/2 pounds of lamb bones in the pressure cooker, add about a teaspoon of salt (if desired), 6 1/2 - 7 cups of water and process for 23 minutes at 15 PSI. Discard the lamb bones, including the meat (it isn't much good for anything after processing this way), strain into a large saucepan and chill overnight. The next day you can remove the solidified fat quite easily. Underneath, you will find that the pressure cooking process has extracted so much collagen from the bones and meat that the stock is the consistency of jello. Prepare soup using fresh lamb (I use lamb shank) according to the recipe using the lamb stock and adding just enough water to make up the necessary volume for the soup.

The stock is also an excellent base for lamb stew, and I make beef and chicken stock as well using the same process. For beef, I use shin meat and a marrow bone or two. For chicken, I use backs or wings.