I posted a photograph of a bowl of Scotch Broth a couple of weeks ago, and mildly threatened that I would do a recipe blog. Well - tada! - here it is - fabulously rich and filling and delicious.
Another of the tastes of my childhood - normally made by my Dad on a Saturday night, in time for Sunday dinner - in fact, it is still called Papa soup in our family, because we all associate it with him. He still makes it and has a bowl every day for lunch. He, in turn, remembers his Grandfather crumbling an oatcake into his daily plate of broth.
The basis of any good Scotch Broth is the stock (or broth, as US peeps call it). I have here a pile of good beef bones (a Highlander bullock from the next door croft), but you could use lamb, pork or ham bones,oxtail, or a chicken carcass. I put them in a large stockpot of cold water and sloshed a bit of cider vinegar in, as this helps to draw the minerals and goodness from the bones into the stock. I might have actually roasted the bones first, but I didn't have time, so in they went as they were. Let them sit in this acidulated water for an hour and then bring to a simmer, strain off any scum, and let them burble away for at least 6 hours. Some people let it go for days, but I cook on LPG, so tend to worry about my cylinder running out.. Anyway - after several hours, we have a rich gelatinous stock, ready to make our soup. There is a good article here on the amazing health benefits of bone broth.
What makes this Scotch Broth, rather than just vegetable soup, is the addition of grains and pulses. We can buy a bag of Scotch Broth mix here, which has a mixture of pearl barley, lentils and split peas, but you can also make it with straight barley. I try to remember to soak my broth mix over night, but if I forget, then I would use plain barley, and soak it until I needed it.
I have one and a half cups of broth mix soaking here, I find that half a cup of barley or broth mix to one litre of stock gives a nice consistency to the soup.
So - bring 3 litres of strained stock to a rolling boil and add your drained broth mix or barley. Let it simmer away while you prep your veg.
Leeks first - I have three medium sized ones here, cleaned and sliced, and there is a small onion in there too The secret of a good Scotch Broth is to cook the leeks and the broth mix well, so let them simmer together for a good ten minutes on their own. Add some salt to taste - about 3 teaspoons to start with and you can add more later.
Then add 4 large-ish carrots and three quarters of a small turnip/swede/rutabaga* diced. Not too small, as you want this to be a good hearty pot of soup. Add pepper, a spoonful of sugar (secret ingredient) and more salt if needed. Let it cook until the vegetables are tender.
Grate the rest of the turnip and another 2 carrots, add them to the soup with a handful of chopped parsley - taste again and adjust seasoning if necessary. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so, until all the veg and pulses are nice and soft.
And there we have it - Traditional Scotch Broth - the elixir of life. What more can I say?
More please Mum?
3 litres (quarts) stock (broth) made from bones
1 1/2 cups broth mix or pearl barley (soaked)
1 small onion
4 carrots diced
3/4 small swede/rutabaga, diced
2 carrots grated
1/4 swede/rutabaga, grated
chopped parsley - handful
salt, pepper, sugar.
* In Scotland we refer to the swede as a turnip, tumshie or neep. Swede is the English term, and rutabaga is the US name.