Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lamb and Pearl Barley Soup

I'm a terrible one for themed weeks of foods, but for some reason (well, it's seasonal, innit) LAMB is featuring a lot on the menu at the moment. And quite timely it is too, as I have to say, in these frostbitten days at the beginning of the year, there is something about lamb, something I can't quite put my finger on, that really hits the spot on a really bitter cold winter's day.

Of course, I say I can't put my finger on it, but that's not going to stop me from trying my very best to theorise. (Professor NibbleScribbler dons her scientific hat) I believe (and of course, I've got no cold, hard proof), that it has something to do with the fatty texture of lamb, the somehow simultaneously mellow yet robust flavour of the meat. I'm interested to know if anyone else feels the same way as I do here. But then, I'm probably just rabbitting on with noone listening as usual. Still, the birds in the garden like it, heck, I think they even understand me!

So this morning, off I waltzed down to the well-overpriced butcher's down the bottom of the lane, to request two nice generous strips of his best lamb's neck. Coming in at a whopping £9.50, I wouldn't exactly classify this under my previous frugal entries , however, it was a splendiferous-if-not-quite-economic soup which resulted, and you can rest assured that the amount would feed a hungry rugby team. Course, I'm reckoning that if you get yourself on to a cheaper butcher's and you could halve the price.

Anyway, where was I, oh yes, so: Lamb. Today's tummy-warmer was a beaut - 'Lamb and Pearl Barley Soup'. Rock 'n' roll.


1.5 lbs Lamb's neck
1 garlic clove, chopped, glug olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
(optional: 1-2 parsnips, diced)
1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
1 lamb stock cube + 1 litre water
handful chopped parsley, 1 bay leaf
1/4 tspn: dried coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric
splash soy sauce and worcester sauce
couple handfuls pearl barley


1. In a large casserole dish, brown the meat with the garlic in the olive oil on a medium heat. Remove into bowl, and, again in the casserole, cook the onion and celery until golden, then add the carrots and parsnips. Stir, then return the lamb to the pan.
2. Add the tomatoes, a dash each of worcester/soy sauce, then the lamb stock and liquid. Allow to simmer slowly, then add in the spices, parsley, bay leaf and pearl barley.
3. Put in a medium heat oven (sorry, can't be more specific as using an Aga at the moment) to slow cook for 2-3 hours, keeping an eye on it and stirring occasionally.

Easy as that really. Magic.

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