Traditional Scotch Broth Recipe

Scotch Broth Recipe in a bowl with bread and books nearby

What is Scotch Broth?

Scotch Broth is a deliciously warming soup made from barley, lamb, mutton or beef stock, a selection of vegetables and split peas. It is so ingrained in Scotland’s cuisine a Scotch Broth recipe can be found in every Scottish family cookbook, with recipes tending to be handed down in families over time.

The most famous Scottish soups, Scotch Broth is regularly served day in and day out and is a standard part of Burns night celebrations.

Everything you’ll find in a Scotch Broth recipe comes together perfectly to create this sustaining dish. Made traditionally with mutton this warming soup is the perfect partner to counter Scotland’s not so warming weather.

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Scotch Broth - Traditional Hearty Soup Recipe

The History of Scotch Broth

A Scotch broth recipe first appeared in the 19th Century though it will have been in Scottish homes hundreds of years before. Like many Scottish recipes we research, Scotch Broth has a clouded history, nearly impossible to trace back.

Scottish recipes tended to pass from family member to family member pre 17th Century. There was little requirement to publish cookbooks.

This is how soups like Scotch Broth, Cullen Skink and Cock-a-leekie all became so well known on Scotland and then the world!

That does not remove the tradition and history surrounding this dish, of course. If anything, for us, it makes it much more culturally relevant than a recipe created for a book.

Scotch Broth Recipe in a bowl with bread and books nearby

Things you’ll need to make Scotch Broth

Ingredients for Scotch Broth

Serves 4-6

  • 2 carrots (100g)
  • 1 onion (100g)
  • 1 leek (100g)
  • 1 small neep (150g)
  • 110g barley (1/2 cup)
  • 70g split dried peas – ideally green but yellow is fine (1/3cup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2.5 litres of lamb, chicken, or beef stock
  • 30g butter/oil
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 250g shredded white cabbage (a few handfuls) or kale
  • 200g meat (optional)

If making your own stock:

  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 leek
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • Lamb neck/bones or beef with bones
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 litres cold water

How to use Barley and Split Peas

The barley and split peas we buy here in Scotland at the supermarket don’t require soaking and can just be put straight into the stock, but check the type you buy. You can use either green or yellow split peas, although green dried peas are traditional.

How to make Scotch Broth – Step by step method

Making your own stock:

Traditionally Scotch broth was made with lamb neck or lamb on the bone. We sometimes make it with leftover bones from a lamb roast, or buy some lamb on the bone especially.

Roughly chop all stock ingredients into large pieces and add to the pot, bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for 1.5 hours.

Add salt and pepper and taste.

If you want a more robust stock, reduce further. You can top the stock up with water, or vegetable stock when you make the soup if you feel there’s not enough flavour.

Remove all stock ingredients, setting aside any meat you want to add to the soup later and the stock in another bowl/pot and continue with instructions below.

Scotch Broth Recipe:

Finely chop onion and leek and dice carrots and neep.

Add butter or oil to the pot and melt.

Add onion and leek and allow to cook for 5 minutes but not brown.

Add chopped carrots and neep.

Add split peas and barley and pour over stock.

Bring to the boil then turn down to simmer for 1 hour.

Add shredded cabbage (or kale) and leftover meat if using and simmer for a further 15 minutes

Stir through parsley before serving.

Scotch Broth Recipe in a bowl with bread and books nearby

Variations

There are many different ways to make Scotch Broth, and it may surprise you how ‘un-brothlike’ they are!

Making stock using mutton bones

Using mutton or lamb neck with bone-in is deemed the most traditional method for making Scotch Broth. Fat can be cut from the bones and then they are cooked for 2-3 hrs before adding the vegetables and barley.

Using leftover roast

Boil up bones to make stock, remove bones, continue with recipe as per usual, add any leftover meat chopped at the end of heat through. Can even be done with chicken, although it’s not traditional to add chicken meat.

Making stock using fresh meat

Scotch Broth is a really versatile soup and using fresh meat rather than leftovers works well.

You can pre-cook the meat on the bone and then remove the meat and set aside before using the bones to add to the stock and mixing the meat in at the end.

Or, use a cut of meat like a lamb shank and cook the meat in the stock ingredients on the bone, taking care to remove the meat and separate from the stock vegetables at the end. It helps not to chop up the vegetables too much in this case!

Making Scotch Broth using pre-bought stock

If making your own stock isn’t for you or if you’re looking for a quicker recipe then using your own stock is a great variation. We use stock cubes instead of the homemade stock when called for in the recipe. Easy!

Making Vegetarian Scotch Broth

Use vegetable stock to replace the meat one instantly makes this meaty soup a veggie one. You can make your own stock or use bought, they both work well and create a really delicious vegetarian variation to this warming soup.

See our full vegetarian recipe here.

Scotch Broth Recipe in a bowl with bread and books nearby

Frequent questions

How long does Scotch Broth last?

The soup will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. You may need to add a little water when reheating if it has thickened up.

Can you freeze Scotch Broth?

Yes, it will be perfectly fine for up to 3 months. We suggest letting it cool, then storing it in portions so you only have to defrost what you need. Be sure to label each portion clearly with the date it was frozen.

Remember, if you have used any meat that has been previously frozen then thawed it’s not recommended to freeze for a second time.

What do you have with Scotch Broth?

Scotch Broth, like any good soup, goes perfectly with a good crusty bread but there are some other ideas that could really bring a little taste of Scotland to your table.

Bannocks – Bannocks are a scone-like bread that’s both heavy and flat with a not surprisingly oaty or barley wholesome taste that suits most savoury dishes.

Oatcakes – Oatcakes are a traditional cracker made out of oats that can be found in shops and restaurants all across Scotland

Tattie Scones – A tattie scone is a not always found with soup but we love them and would happily dip them in a Scotch Broth!

Scotch Broth Recipe in a bowl with bread and books nearby

More Scottish Soup Recipes

Yield: 4 - 6 Servings

Traditional Scotch Broth Recipe

Traditional Scotch Broth Recipe

This Scotch Broth recipe comes together perfectly to create a hearty and delicious soup. Made traditionally with mutton, this warming dish is the perfect partner to counter Scotland's not so warming weather!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots (100g)
  • 1 onion (100g)
  • 1 leek (100g)
  • 1 small neep (150g)
  • 110g barley (1/2 cup)
  • 70g split dried peas - ideally green but yellow is fine (1/3cup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2.5 litres of lamb, chicken, or beef stock
  • 30g butter/oil
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 250g shredded white cabbage (a few handfuls) or kale
  • 200g shredded meat (optional)

Making your own Stock *see notes

  • 1 leek
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • Lamb neck/bones or beef with bones
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 litres cold water

Instructions

Making Scotch Broth:


If you're making your own stock (see notes) follow that process first and then the recipe as below.

  1. Finely chop onion and leek and dice carrots and neep.
  2. Add butter or oil to the pot and melt.
  3. Add onion and leek and allow to cook for 5 minutes but not brown.
  4. Add chopped carrots and neep.
  5. Add split peas and barley and pour over the stock, own stock recipe below.
  6. Bring to the boil then turn down to simmer for 1 hour.
  7. Add shredded cabbage (or kale) and leftover meat if using and simmer for a further 15 minutes
  8. Stir through parsley before serving.

Making your own Stock *see notes

  1. Roughly chop the ingredients into large chunks and add to the pot, bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for 1.5 hours.
  2. Add salt and pepper and taste.
  3. If you want a more robust stock, reduce further. You can top the stock up with water, or vegetable stock when you make the soup.
  4. Remove all stock ingredients, setting aside any meat you want to add to the soup later and the stock in another bowl/pot and continue with instructions below.

Notes

Making stock using mutton bones

Using mutton or lamb neck with bone-in is deemed the most traditional method for making Scotch Broth. Fat can be cut from the bones and then they are cooked for 2-3 hrs before adding the vegetables and barley.

Using leftover roast

Boil up bones to make stock, remove bones, continue with recipe as per usual, add any leftover meat chopped at the end of heat through. Can even be done with chicken, although it's not traditional to add chicken meat.

Making stock using fresh meat

Scotch Broth is a really versatile soup and using fresh meat rather than leftovers works well.

You can pre-cook the meat on the bone and then remove the meat and set aside before using the bones to add to the stock and mixing the meat in at the end.

Or, use a cut of meat like a lamb shank and cook the meat in the stock ingredients on the bone, taking care to remove the meat and separate from the stock vegetables at the end. It helps not to chop up the vegetables too much in this case!

Making Scotch Broth using pre-bought stock

If making your own stock isn't for you or if you're looking for a quicker recipe then using your own stock is a great variation. We use stock cubes instead of the homemade stock when called for in the recipe. Easy!

Making Vegetarian Scotch Broth

Use vegetable stock to replace the meat one instantly makes this meaty soup a veggie one. You can make your own stock or use bought, they both work well and create a really delicious vegetarian variation to this warming soup.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1360Total Fat: 92gSaturated Fat: 39gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 45gCholesterol: 418mgSodium: 537mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 108g

The nutritional data in this recipe is provided by a third party and these values are automatically calculated and offered for guidance only. Their accuracy is not guaranteed.

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