Burns Night is coming up on the 25 January so I think it is time to share my recipe for Scotch Broth, a staple dish at many a Burns Supper. I realise this is one recipe that almost all Scots will have mastered but I do have blog followers from all around the world and I don’t want to assume everyone knows how to cook Scotch Broth just because I do.
Like all traditional dishes, most cooks will have their own family recipe and their own twist on the basics. I’m sure we could debate the merits of each recipe for hours! My obvious twist is the fact that I make a vegetarian Scotch Broth – the original is made with meat, normally lamb. My veggie Scotch Broth is full of flavour, so you can serve it with confidence to vegetarians, vegans and non meat eaters alike. Just make sure your stock is vegan friendly.
Serves at least 8
Difficulty rating Easy – just remember to soak your broth mix before hand.
- 300g Scotch Broth mixture
- 2 tbsp rapeseed, olive or other vegetable oil (I much prefer rapeseed)
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- 1 large onion – finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped (traditionalists will be horrified about the addition of garlic, but I like it and it’s my recipe!)
- 1 leek – chopped
- 2 celery sticks – chopped
- 500 g turnip – peeled and chopped into cubes* §
- 750 g carrot – peeled and chopped into cubes* §
- 1 large potato – peeled and chopped into cubes* §
- Vegetable bullion – to taste
- Pepper – to taste
- Fresh parsley – a handful
*Try to make your cubes roughly the same size so they look attractive when served, we’re not going to blend this broth. Mine are about 1 to 1.5 cm. The size doesn’t really matter as long as they are reasonably similar – the world won’t end if they’re not.
§ You could use a preprepared soup pack(s) instead. That certainly eases the stress of prepping turnip. Most supermarkets have a basic soup pack in the fresh veg section. Well, they do in Scotland and I assume it is a pretty universal thing. Let me know if it’s not.
The day before you make your soup
Put 300g of Scotch Broth mix in a bowl, cover in cold water making sure the top of your mixture is covered by at least 5cm of water. Soak for at least 12 hours. I normally cover and leave over night, rinse in the morning and then soak again until that afternoon when I make the soup. As long as you soak for 12 hours you’re fine.
If you can’t get Scotch Broth mix in a pack you can make your own by combining barley, dried yellow peas, dried green peas and lentils. Just go for a ratio of ingredients that suits you.
- Use the largest pot you have.
- Add your onion, celery and leek, stir and sauté until they start to soften. Make sure they don’t brown.
- Add your garlic and crumble the stock cubes into the mix. Stir and continue to heat gently for 2-3 minutes. The mix should be soft and gloopy at this stage. If it is dry, add a tablespoon of water to loosen.
- Add the carrots, turnip and potato, stir so they are mixed through the onion mixture, cover in boiling water, bring to the boil then reduce and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Drain your soaked broth mix and it to your soup. You may need to add more water at this point. Make sure the mix is covered by 2-3 cm of water and add more during the cooking process if it starts to dry.
- Return to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the veg and broth mix are soft. The time taken can vary but I start checking after 20 minutes. I don’t expect it to be ready by then but it will need a stir and I can see if more water is needed. I also taste it at the 20 minute mark and then add a few teaspoons of vegetable bullion and some fresh pepper to taste.
- Once the soup is cooked, add your freshly chopped parsley, stir through and serve.
What else should you have at your Burns Supper? Well, menus will vary but I like my Scotch Broth for a starter; a vegetarian haggis, tatties and neeps for the main and Cranachan for desert. A true winter feast!