Hairst bree – Lamb and summer vegetable soup

 In Fruit, Vegetables and Cereals, Ingredients, Meat, Poultry and Game, Mutton/Lamb, Recipes, Scottish Heritage, Soups, Summer, Vegetables

Hairst breeThis is my take on a traditional Scottish dish which is called variously hotch potch or hairst bree (harvest broth). Traditionally made made with neck of lamb or mutton, I prefer to use the shank as it renders it a bit meatier with less fat in my experience. The vegetables can be any that are in season at the time, and I tend to use whatever can be supplied from my Dad’s allotment, but peas and broad beans are a must. Some people prefer to cook the vegetables for a long time but I believe you should give them as short a cooking as possible to maintain their bite and vivid colours.

Hairst bree – Lamb and summer vegetable soup

Serves 4-6
1 lamb shank
2 bay leaves
1 small bunch parsley plus a little more chopped for garnish
1.5 tsp salt
1 small new season turnip (swede if outside Scotland) diced
4-6 small new season onions roughly chopped
4-6 small carrots chopped
10-12 broad bean pods shelled and skinned
10-12 pea pods shelled (or 2 handfuls frozen)
2 good handfuls lettuce shredded (little gem, oak leaf or similar bright green leafy variety)

1. In a large pot cover the lamb shank with 2 litres of water. Add the salt, bay leaves, and parsley, and cover. Over a medium heat bring to the boil and simmer for 2-2.5 hours until the meat is ready to fall off the bone;
2. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside. Add in the onions and turnip, bring to the boil again, then simmer for 10 minutes;
3. Add the carrots and simmer for a further 10 minutes followed by the peas, broad beans and lettuce. Warm through for a further 3 minutes;
4. Meanwhile discard the skin and bone from the lamb and chop the meat roughly. Add into the soup, check for seasoning, stir through the chopped parsley and serve.

First published in Great British Chefs, August 2015

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