How to make Scotch Broth like a Scot
Growing up in Scotland in the 1960s and early 70s, there were two types of soup served at every Scottish table: Lentil Soup and Scotch Broth. There are as many variations of both lentil soup and Scotch Broth as there are cooks in Scotland, I like my soup so that ‘your spoon can stand up in it’, as my Dad would say, thick and unctuous, I know others prefer a lighter broth.
I generally make these soups without a recipe, throwing in whatever vegetables are in my fridge, however today I thought I would take more care, note the quantities and share with you how this Scots woman makes Scotch Broth.
Let’s start with the ingredients, as you can see they are fairly simple. You can buy broth mix for Scotch Broth in most supermarkets, the pack I used contained 55% Pearly Barley, 18% Yellow Split peas, 9% Green Split Peas, 9% Blue Peas and 9% Red Split Lentils. Blue peas are the same peas used for Green Split peas, but whole and with the skin left on. I would recommend soaking the broth mix overnight in lots of cold water although, if you forget, you can boil them in some water for 20 minutes then leave to soak for two hours before starting your soup.
A large onion is essential, as are the carrots, celery is always fabulous in soup but if you don’t have any then you can still make Scotch Broth without it. I’m not a purist, the recipe I’m giving is the one I usually make, however you can add other root vegetables if you wish, turnip, swede, parsnip will all work well.
Kale is a very traditional ingredient for Scotch Broth and should be added at the end of cooking so it retains it bright green colour and all the nutrients. If you don’t have any kale, then spinach or parsley will add that lift of colour, again you can serve the soup without the greenery but it does add to the flavour.
There’s no need to peel carrots for soup, just wash them and top and tail, then quarter the carrots lengthways and dice.
As you can see I make a LOT of soup, my pot of soup will serve 8-10 hearty portions, so I make it in my pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker then you can make it in a large soup or stock pan, or you can half the ingredients and use a smaller pan. It is worth making a large quantity, as you can keep some in the fridge for workday lunches or freeze it for another day.
If I was truly sticking with tradition then the stock should be made with neck of mutton or lamb, some people swear by beef skirt or even chicken, but I’m keeping this recipe vegetarian and using vegetable stock cubes.
- 200g broth mix, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
- 500g carrots, diced
- 2 sticks celery, diced
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2.5 litres vegetable stock
- 200g chopped kale
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pan or pressure cooker.
- Add the onions and saute on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes
- Add the celery and carrots and saute them with the onion for a further 3-4 minutes.
- Add the broth mix and stock, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- If using a pressure cooker, cook on low pressure for 25 minutes.
- If cooking without pressure, simmer gently for approximately 40 minutes or until the grains and pulses are soft.
- Add the kale and leave to cook in the residual heat of the soup for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- Check seasoning and adjust as required.
- Serve with wholemeal bread, bannocks or oatcakes.
- If you don't have any kale, you can add other green leaves or chopped parsley. The soup can also be served without greenery.
- Any root vegetables can be added to this soup and any type of stock can be used.
I’m entering my Scotch Broth for Super Soup the soup linky run by Jo’s Kitchen