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Scotch Broth Soup Recipe

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Scotland’s classic scotch broth is a soul-warming soup that is hearty enough to be a meal. This soup recipe is made with meat, vegetables, fresh herbs, and pearl barley. Enjoy this nutritious and healthy Scottish soup with crusty bread and cheese!

A bowl of Scotch broth with a spoon in the background.

If you like this recipe you will like our oxtail soup and our turkey farro soup.

Why You’ll Love This Classic Scotch Broth Recipe

This soup is so scrumptious and filling!

For this scotch broth recipe, we used lamb as the protein. After searing it nicely and adding fresh herbs and broth, it is simmered slowly resulting in a deep, rich, flavorful broth.

We have included root vegetables in this hearty soup, and they are nutrient-dense with so many health benefits! These veggies are standard fare in Scotland and scotch broth traditionally consists of a selection of carrots, leeks, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips. We added the shredded cabbage near the end of the cooking time.

Scotland traditionally serves this hearty, satisfying meal-soup on blustery cold winter days. However, this soup is much too delicious to be reserved for just cold weather but actually should be enjoyed any time!

Here’s why:

  • Prep time can be done in under 30 minutes.
  • It’s easy to make.
  • Lamb is a great protein choice and it’s delicious.
  • After prep, you add all of the ingredients to the pot and walk away!

Ingredients Needed For Scotch Broth Soup

To make this Scottish dinner recipe, these are the ingredients you will need:

  • Olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • Lamb (shoulder, neck, or leg)
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Chicken stock or water (or a combination of both)
  • Pearl barley
  • Bay leaves
  • Bouquet garni (more on that down below)
  • Leeks (white and light green only, chopped)
  • Onion (chopped)
  • Turnips (peeled and cut into cubes)
  • Carrots (peeled and cut into small cubes)
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh parsley (for garnish)
The ingredients needed to make Scotch broth recipe

How To Make Scotch Broth Soup

With so many ingredients needed to make this scotch broth, it may seem like it’s very complicated to make… but, don’t let that deter you! We’ve listed out the basic instructions below to give you an idea of how easy it is to make this delicious scotch broth soup with lamb.

Make sure not to skip the full printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. There, you’ll find all of the ingredient amounts and details you’ll need.

  1. Sear the lamb: Using your pot of choice, cook the seasoned lamb pieces in some olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear until the meat is browned. Don’t skip this step, it will add an extra layer of flavor to the soup.
  2. Start making the broth: Pour in the chicken stock, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot for any leftover bits of flavor from the lamb.
  3. Add barley: Stir in the pearl barley, bay leaves, and the bundle of fresh herbs.
  4. Let the soup simmer: Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to low heat. After that, allow the soup to simmer for 1 hour with the lid on the pot but open enough to let some of the steam escape.
  5. Add vegetables: Add the rest of the vegetables (except the shredded cabbage) to the pot and stir. Let the soup come back up to a boil and then back down to a simmer for an extra 30 minutes.
  6. Add in the cabbage: Stir the shredded cabbage into the soup and simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves and the remains of the herb bundle.
Process photos showing how to make Scotch broth soup

How To Serve Scotch Broth Soup For Dinner

To serve this hearty soup for dinner, use a ladle to fill your bowl with scotch broth soup and garnish with the chopped parsley. This is optional but it really adds a fresh earthiness to the soup at the end.

Serve this with some warm crusty bread (like this no-knead rosemary bread) and a few slices of cheese!

Frequently Asked Questions About Scotch Broth

When putting together this lamb scotch broth recipe, we came across a couple of frequently asked questions we wanted to answer.

What is a bouquet garni?

A bouquet garni is a bundle of fresh herbs either tied by kitchen twine or stored inside of a cheesecloth.

This is typically used in soup or casserole recipes when you need to add the flavors of fresh herbs but don’t want it in the actual dish to eat. Making a little bouquet garni makes it easy to scoop out of your dish when you are done with it!

For example, in this specific bouquet, we used stems of fresh thyme, oregano, parsley, and rosemary.

A bundle of herbs tied with string to make a bouquet garni.

What is barley?

Scotch broth traditionally includes the grain barley as a thickener. To the average Scottish homemaker, barley is as familiar as rice is to us.

However, barley is an ancient grain that originated in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia. It is a member of the grass family and has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years.

Barley is readily available and used in soups, bread, and cereals. We’ve used it to make quick barley bread and roasted chicken barley salad!

Do I have to use lamb?

No, you don’t. We went ahead and used lamb because we were also making this lamb Osso Bucco casserole and decided to stick with lamb. It’s also just absolutely delicious in this soup recipe.

If you aren’t able to use lamb, you can easily swap it out for a cut of meat like short ribs or beef shanks!

A bowl of Scotch broth and a glass of ice water.

Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

This recipe has been adapted from The Ultimate Soup Bible!

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A bowl of Scotch broth showing chunks of lamb and vegetables.

Scotch Broth

Scotland’s classic scotch broth is a soul-warming soup made with lamb, barley and root vegetables.
4.78 from 40 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 254kcal
Author: Pat Nyswonger


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder, neck or leg, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cups chicken stock water or a combination of both
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bouquet garni stems of fresh thyme, oregano, parsley and rosemary tied together with string
  • 2 medium leeks – white and light green only chopped
  • 1 medium onion – chopped
  • 2 small turnips peeled and cut into cubes
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • salt & pepper to taste.
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley for garnish


  • In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, over medium-high, heat the oil and add the lamb pieces, sprinkle the meat with the salt and pepper and sear, about 8 minutes.
  • Pour in the chicken stock, scraping up any bits left in the pot from the searing. Stir in the pearl barley, bay leaves and the bundle of fresh herbs. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour with the lid on the pot but slightly ajar.
  • Add the leek, onion, turnip and carrots to the pot, stirring to combine. Return the soup to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Stir the shredded cabbage into the soup and simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves and the remains of the herb bundle.
  • To serve, ladle into soup bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with warm crusty bread.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 567mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g
Scotland’s classic scotch broth is a soul-warming soup made with lamb, barley and root vegetables.
Classic Scotch Broth

Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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4.78 from 40 votes (40 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Friday 3rd of April 2020

This is on the stove right now, and smells fantastic. Thanks for this lovely recipe!

Dahn Boquist

Saturday 4th of April 2020

You're welcome Lisa! Thanks for the comment.

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