This old-fashioned warming soup truly feeds both body and soul. Traditional lamb shank & barley soup is simple, yet full of wholesome goodness. It’s easy to make both in a slow cooker and on the stove; essentially, this is a meal that you prepare in the morning, let it cook, and it’ll be amazing by dinner time. This soup freezes well, so don’t be shy to make a double batch and keep some for later….you’ll be glad of it on a rainy day!
To get the best out of lamb shanks, they do require lengthy cooking. Despite this, they’re easy to work with: once they’ve been browned, making a soup based around them is little more than throwing a few ingredients into a pot then waiting. You can add more herbs or garlic if you like; like most soups, there’s a fair degree of versatility with this one. If you’re not familiar with barley, it’s an ancient cereal grain whose chewy texture & nutty flavour makes a nice change from rice or pasta. Barley needs to be rinsed prior to cooking to remove any dust, dirt or debris.
Here’s How To Make It
Start by heating the oil in a large soup pot, then brown your meat over moderate heat. In this example I used boneless shank meat, so I browned it for about 10 minutes. If you’re using bone-in shanks the meat will be thicker, so you’ll need to brown them for longer.
Next, add the onion and continue browning. Cook for 5 minutes or so, then add the carrot and celery. Stir continuously, and keep frying this mixture for another 10 minutes.
Add the stock and bring to the boil. Stir before covering. You can use any kind of stock you like: here I’ve chosen a simple beef stock powder mixed with water. Upon boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 3 hours, stirring regularly. Once the meat comes apart with a fork and the sinewy fat has completely softened, it is time to add the rinsed barley. Cook the soup for a further 45 minutes. During this time, the liquid will reduce and the soup will thicken. The barley is cooked when it looks like it has split open.
Traditional Lamb Shank & Barley Soup
- 1 large soup pot
- 1 Knife
- 1 chopping board
- 2 large carrots
- 3 stalks celery
- 2 tbsp oil
- 500 grams lamb shanks
- 2 onions
- 3/4 cup pearl barley rinse well before use
- 5 tsp beef stock powder + 2 litres water or 2 litres of liquid beef stock
- salt & pepper to taste optional
- Over moderate heat, warm the oil in the large soup pot.
- Gently brown the meat. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn't catch or burn.
- Meanwhile, chop the onion, celery and carrot.
- When the meat has nearly browned enough, add the onion and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Stir continually.
- Add the celery and carrot and continue stirring.
- Add the stock powder and water and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 3 hours.
- Add the rinsed barley and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
- Season to taste and serve.