This traditional slow cooker scotch broth is made with lots of winter vegetables, tender pearl barley and lamb for flavour and richness. There's just 10 minutes prep time, and then this delicious, hearty lamb and vegetable soup can simmer away whilst you get on with your day.
What you'll love about the recipe
- Slow cooker Scotch broth is an an easy, filling, budget-friendly soup which is packed with flavour
- No soaking or browning required for this easy recipe
- Ideal for a mid-week family dinner or hearty lunch
- Great for meal prep and freezes well
- A nutritious healthy soup with plenty of vegetables, protein and fibre
Lamb neck on the bone. It's important to have meat on the bone for this slow cooker Scotch broth as it adds a lot of flavour. The bone broth is very nutritious, and much nicer than a stock cube! However, lamb neck is not always easy to get hold of, so if you are struggling, use a couple of bone-in lamb chops (remove most of the fat). Alternatively, buy a good quality lamb stock and use some boneless lamb neck.
There's not a large quantity of meat in the recipe, as it's intended for flavour rather than being the main element. Neck of lamb is a very economical cut of lamb and this traditional slow cooker Scotch broth recipe makes a small amount of meat go a long way!
Pearl barley is a type of barley which has been processed to remove the inedible outer hull and the bran. It cooks relatively quickly compared to hulled barley but is still a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Note that barley contains gluten. For a gluten free Scotch broth, replace the barley with brown rice.
Carrots, swede and onion add bulk and flavour to this hearty Scottish lamb and barley soup. Use turnips instead of swede (rutabaga) if you prefer.
Leeks add a lovely sweetness to the recipe. If you don't have leeks, replace them with additional onions.
Adding cabbage to slow cooker Scotch broth is an easy way to add an extra portion of greens. I used white cabbage, but you could also use savoy cabbage, or kale if you prefer. Cabbage takes less time to cook than root vegetables, so it is added towards the end of the cooking time.
Although not traditional, you can also add a chopped clove of garlic and some thyme or rosemary to the recipe.
How to make slow cooker Scotch broth
The prep for this hearty slow cooker barley soup is very easy.
Peel and roughly chop the onion.
Wash and top and tail the carrots and swede. I don't peel the swede as the skin is very thin, and rather a pretty colour. Chop into 1cm dice.
Trim the roots and most of the dark green from the leeks. Halve them lengthwise, then rinse over the sink to remove any grit. Peel back the leaves at the top to ensure no dirt is trapped.
Slice the halves through lengthwise again into quarters, then turn and chop into 5mm pieces.
Rinse the pearl barley in a sieve over the sink.
Add the prepared veggies and pearl barley to the slow cooker and either toss or stir to mix.
Add the lamb, pushing it down into the vegetables. Pour over 1.5 litres of boiling water and cook on high for 4 hours or slow for 8 hours.
Meanwhile, finely slice the cabbage. Add to the slow cooker 40 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the lamb bones. Shred the meat from the bones and add back to the soup.
- If you enjoy lamb chops, pop the bones in a bag in the freezer. They'll make delicious lamb bone broth which you could add to this recipe.
- If you want to use a soup mix ( a mixture of pearl barley and dried pulses) in this recipe, check the package. Often a broth mix will need soaking before use.
Serving and storage
This slow cooker Scotch broth is a complete one pot meal with plenty of veggies, protein and complex carbs. So it really doesn't need any accompaniments.
Like many stews, this hearty soup tastes even better the next day. You can store it in the fridge for up to 3 days, and heat through on the stovetop.
Traditional lamb Scotch broth also freezes very well.
Frequently asked questions
A traditional Scotch broth recipe is very nutritious. Although lamb can be a fatty meat, the quantity in this recipe is fairly low. Cooking the lamb on the bone means that there's a nourishing bone broth which forms the base of this healthy soup. Pearl barley is a complex carb with plenty of fibre, and a serving of slow cooker Scotch broth contains 3 portions of vegetables.
No, pearl barley does not require soaking. Pearl barley has been processed to remove the tough outer hull and as a result, it cooks through easily without soaking.
Pearl barley contains gluten and is not suitable for coeliacs. If you're not able to eat gluten, I think brown rice is the best substitute in this recipe.
Other healthy hearty meals
There are lots more healthy hearty meals to enjoy on Cinnamon and Kale. Why not try this slow cooker sausage curry, or one of the healthy recipes below?
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a rating and/or comment at the bottom of the page. Your feedback and questions are much appreciated.
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Slow Cooker Scotch Broth
- Slow cooker
- 1 onion peeled and roughly chopped
- 200 g carrots cut into 1 cm dice
- 200 g swede cut into 1 cm dice
- 400 g leeks washed and cut into 1 cm dice
- 60 g pearl barley rinsed
- 300 g lamb neck on the bone
- 1.5 l boiling water
- 200 g white or green cabbage finely sliced
- seasoning to taste
- Prepare the vegetables. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Wash and top and tail the carrots and swede and cut into 1cm dice.
- Trim the roots and dark green from the top of the leek. Slice lengthwise and rinse under the tap to ensure any grit is removed. Slice lengthwise again into quarters and chop into 5mm slices.
- Rinse the pearl barley in a sieve over the sink.
- Add the vegetables and barley to the slow cooker and toss to mix.
- Add the lamb neck pieces and nestle them down into the vegetables. Season well, and cover with 1.5 litres of boiling water.
- Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
- Add the shredded cabbage 40 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
- Carefully remove the lamb bones and shred the meat. Return the lamb to the soup.
- If you don't have leeks, add extra onion to the recipe
- Swede (rutabaga) can be replaced by turnip if preferred
- It's important to use lamb which is on the bone for flavour. If you can't get lamb neck on the bone, either use a couple of lamb chops on the bone, or use boneless lamb and replace the water with a good lamb stock
- Cabbage can be replaced by kale if preferred
Please note nutritional information is per serving and is provided for guidance only.