This post is proof that I am able to make things without sugar and butter.
This is a meal.
This is a dinner!
Specifically, it is a dinner you should eat to celebrate Burns’ Night this Friday (if you’re Scottish). I wouldn’t advise consuming it immediately before being flung around a dance hall at a ceilidh, because you will inevitably come back to the pot for seconds and thirds and by the time you’re satiated you won’t be able to move, much less jig.
If you’re not Scottish then you should still eat it if you feel like you should get some more vegetables in your diet. Also: if you’re yet to establish a love affair with kale, this is for you.
All of these above reasons apply to me. I am Scottish. My 5-a-day has been suspiciously chocolatey of late. And before now I was apparently unable to shop correctly for kale. Despite several supermarket expeditions for this superfood, I’ve never actually been able to find it in the supermarket. When I finally struck gold – or emerald, more accurately – amongst the fresh produce aisles, I cleverly decided to stock up on several bags of the stuff. Prepare to be roasted into chips! Pureed into morning smoothies (withhold your judgement, everyone)! Sautéed with butter! I have grand plans.
This soup packs some serious vegetables.
A sweeeede. Or you could pick a turnip. Or both. Up to you.
And the greens. Kale to the left and cabbage to the right.
Oooh, and a big hunk of beef (I swear it is big, it's just the pot is bigger).
These kale plans may have to be shelved for a while because I’m going to London on Thursday for a quick weekend break to see James. Which means I’ll be in the wrong country for January 25th, Burns’ Day, and there’s no chance I’ll be desperately seeking haggis when - hellooooooo – I’m in London and already drowning in the amount of options I have to eat out.
This is real life: I have a preplanned McDonald’s date on Friday evening. Followed by a trip to Outsider Tart (excited!!!!). I am obviously morally and ethically and tastefully against almost all of McDonald’s food but…there’s just something about a McFlurry, y’know? Plus given that all McDonald’s is nutritionally void, I can have a McFlurry for my main meal and not feel bad about ice cream for dinner because it won’t be any worse than getting a McChickenMacBeefBig.
Sorry. Back to soup. Scotch Broth is the opposite of McDonald’s. It’s not American, it’s not fast, it’s not obnoxious, it isn’t served under golden arches, and it really is nutritionally dense. It can easily be made vegetarian by just not adding the beef and using veg stock (though why would you?). And doesn’t contain any dubious additives or ground-up-grossness. It's just aaaallllll goooooood.
Also this meal is inexpensive to make and serves about a thousand people (or a family of four plus one soup-obsessed dog, with tons of leftovers).
p.s. I'm going to tell you all about that bread in the background really soon.
300g ‘soup mix’ – or 150g of pearl barley and 150g of green split peas
450g (1lb) beef brisket
1 bay leaf
1 litre (4 cups) beef stock
1 medium-sized swede, diced (optional: use ½ swede and ½ turnip)
4 carrots, diced
4 medium-sized leeks, chopped and washed well
3 sticks celery, diced
170g bag of kale – leaves cut small and stalks discarded
170g bag of cabbage greens (or a small savoy cabbage), leaves cut small
Salt & pepper
- Soak the soup mix for anywhere between 4 hours and overnight. When ready to use, be sure to rinse thoroughly with cold water through a colander and pick over for any bad bits.
- When ready to begin the soup, put the beef brisket in a large pot and add a litre of beef stock plus enough water to fully cover the meat. Add a bay leaf. Bring the pot to the boil and then allow to simmer for around an hour on a low heat.
- Add the soup mix (or your barley and peas), bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for half an hour.
- Add the carrots, celery, swede and leek. Allow to simmer on a very low heat for around 2 hours. You’ll have to stir the pot, occasionally adding more water and salt to season the broth, and also watch out for the fatty deposits from the beef which create an unappetizing film on the top of the pot. Remove this with a ladle.Note: When leftover soup cools, any remaining fat will cool as a single layer on top of the broth. You should remove this before reheating!
- About half an hour before you want to serve, add the greens (kale and cabbage) to the mix and top with water if necessary.
- At this time also remove the beef from the broth. The meat should be very tender and be easily pulled off into strips, which you can cut and add back into the soup.
- Ladle into bowls, top with chopped fresh parsley, and enjoy!