"So, do you like the curly kale in the soup? Is it okay?" I asked nervously. (The Critic is not fond of exotic vegetables entering his dinner.) "Is that the Sugar-Puffs stuff?" he replied somewhat grumpily. "No, that's the barley. The kale is the leafy green stuff." "It's okay. Actually, the soup is surprisingly good," he allowed grudgingly. There was a reason I didn't tell him advance exactly what kind of soup I was making and it was so that I wouldn't go into the dinner already depressed and certain that no one would like it. In fact, it was delicious.
One of the effects our new lifestyle has had on my cooking is that it forces me to use new ingredients more often and this soup is a good case in point. The box of vegetables from the local organic farm included curly kale, something I would normally have had to seek out in Paris. And the leg of lamb I cooked a few weeks ago made a beautiful rich lamb stock that just begged to be paired with barley. When I realised that Scotch broth is a soup that traditionally calls for all these ingredients, well, the Critic's preferences went out the door, I'm afraid. I think he'll forgive me though. We had a filling, nutritious, delicious soup. Little brother and I had it for lunch the next day and it was even better then. I'll be making it again, especially now that I know I won't be the only one who likes it. When the rain is pittering on the roof of the conservatory and the skies are dark at four p.m., you need a soup with fortitude to get you through the night and this one fits the bill perfectly.
This is a deeply satisfying soup, especially if you have home made lamb stock on hand. If not, try using a combination of lamb gravy and beef stock, or home made beef stock. You could use canned beef stock, but bear in mind that it will be a lot saltier and not quite as nice. In any case, providing you have all the ingredients (roasted meat, stock) already in your refrigerator, it's a super simple (and cheap) way to make a wonderful dinner. Serve it with a nice buttered piece of seed-encrusted whole wheat bread.
Scotch Broth (serves 4-6 generously)
2 litres home made lamb broth
1 cup chopped roasted lamb meat
2 small onions, chopped
2 small potatoes
2/3 cup barley
2-3 cups chopped fresh curly kale
Fresh chopped rosemary and thyme to taste
2-3 Tbs butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in the bottom of a large soup pan. Add the onion and cook until softened and transparent, but not browned. Add the rest of the ingredients, aside from the kale. Simmer for 40-50 minutes, or until the barley is tender. Stir in the kale and cook another 5-7 minutes, until the kale is wilted and the soup is hot again. (Adding 2-3 cups of anything to soup will inevitably bring down the temperature temporarily.) Taste for salt and pepper. If you used home made stock, you'll need to be generous with both.
Serve in deep bowls with high quality bread and butter. Smile.