British Bites

Classic British dishes updated for the modern American cook.

British Bites: Scotch Broth

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[Photograph: Sydney Oland]

Rich broth filled with bite-sized pieces of root vegetable and tender lamb, this hearty soup is much more than the name 'broth' implies. The essential elements of a scotch broth are lamb, barley, and root vegetables of various kinds, although many will include cabbage in that list as well. To me, Scotch broth is a root vegetable-based dish, with enough chunks of tender lamb to make it exciting, and a broth that is rich and flavorful.

In order to make an intense lamb broth you really need lamb bones. And while the best option is a leftover bone from a roast leg of lamb, not all of us necessarily have one in our fridge when the urge for Scotch broth hits. The answer to that quandary is lamb shanks. With plenty of bone, and enough meat and tender cartilage add to the soup once it's done cooking, shanks are the best way to create a scotch broth with both a rich lamb broth and tender meat.

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Starting with store-bought chicken broth, then slowly braising lamb shanks and aromatics in it gives your broth the rich body it needs to make this simple soup extraordinary. You're looking to impart as much lamb flavor and depth into the stock as possible, but I would recommend making your initial stock and then letting it sit in your fridge overnight. This will let the flavor mellow, and you will be able to remove the layer of fat that will set up on the surface of the stock before adding the rest of your ingredients.

This recipe includes the root vegetables that I love, but add whatever you have in your fridge that tickles your fancy; rutabaga and turnip are popular, as is finely sliced cabbage. Serve this soup with a big piece of brown bread and some strong ale for a hearty lunch of light dinner that will set you right, especially during this cold time of year.

About the author: Sydney Oland lives in Somerville, Mass. Find more information at sydneyoland.com (or read eatingnosetotail.com)

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