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February 28, 2012 / An Anthology of Clouds

Lamb, Barley and Root Vegetable Broth

Barley Soup from Riverford Farm Cookbook

This soup is like crank, or something. Not that I really am clear on what crank is, but I mean to say that the soup is addictive and madly delicious. The barley is the magic ingredient. It does amazing things to the texture of the broth, making it silky and thick. If that is how all barley works, I don’t know how it ever became the unfashionable ingredient it is today. For vegetarians, this soup could possibly be almost as good just omitting the lamb, though there is a lot of flavor developed by browning the meat. Anyway, yum! The following recipe is my adaptation from Riverford Farm. It doesn’t make a ton of soup so I’d suggest doubling it in order to have leftovers.

1lb of lamb shoulder, cut into 2cm chunks, trimmed of fat
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped.
2 sprigs of thyme
8 cups chicken stock (I use Better Than Bouillon, at a scant ratio of Bouillon to water)
3/4 cup pearl barley
4-6 cups mixed finely chopped root vegetables–carrots, turnips, rutabega, potatoes, celeriac, etc., anything really
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs chopped parsley (optional)

Brown the lamb over high heat in a large, heavy-based pan. (I use a 5 quart cast-iron soup pot and really get a lot of pot-sticking brown crust for this step.) Remove with a slotted spoon and add the butter, onion, celery, leek and thyme. At this point, the base already smells amazing and it should be obvious you have a winner. Cook slowly for 10 min before returning the lamb to the pot, along with the stock.

Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 min. Add the barley and cook for another 30 min. Add the root vegetables and simmer until the lamb, barley and veg is all tender. The cookbook says “another 30 min” but I’ve found it’s at least another hour. You want the meat to be meltingly soft, the barley to have exploded to a dumplinglike consistency and the broth to be downright thick. The soup will be edible long before this but waiting it out is worth it.

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One Comment

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  1. lanceblair / Mar 2 2012 4:15 am

    Crank is low grade crystal meth that leaves one with a violent crash-down…however, like this soup it creates a high of 8 to 24 hours, so the analogy is apt.

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