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Scotch broth (sort of)

Scotch broth. Click on image for larger version.

The best soup I ever had was a bowl of Scotch broth. That was in Edinburgh, in a second-floor restaurant where the waitress called me honey just like they do here.

Like all home cooking, there is no one way to make Scotch broth, and it varies widely. Some has peas, some not. Some uses a stock made from sheep bones. Some uses lamb and is almost a lamb stew. It pretty much always, I think, includes barley. And even though it’s called broth, it’s a thick soup.

I prefer Scotch broth with peas. Start with a good stock. Boil sheep bones if you want to, or some lamb. You want some onions, some celery, a turnip, some carrot, and of course some peas and barley. I have no idea how it’s done in Scotch home kitchens (maybe by simmering it all day?), but to thicken the soup I strain out about two-thirds of the solids, whiz it in the blender, and add it back to the soup. Even so, you’ll still need to simmer the soup for four to six hours or more, as slowly, slowly as possible. You can’t rush Scotch broth.

Though I don’t think it would be done in Scotland, where Scotch broth strictly involves winter vegetables, I like to add some tomato or even tomato paste.

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