Scotch broth is Scotland’s equivalent of chicken noodle soup – easy to make, warm and comforting. Just what you need to fight winter colds!
I mentioned when I posted on New Year’s Day that I had a bit of a cold. Well, sadly that was just the start and my husband who kindly gave me the cold on the first place from what I can work out then got a bit worse as well. Thankfully we’re now improving, but we weren’t the most exciting pair to be around over the weekend, even though we tried to keep the kids entertained as best we could. We both went into “healing food” mode which is a craving for vitamin C for me, salty cheesy crackers for my husband. We did however both agree on Scotch broth as one of the best cold-beating soups and it did feel like it helped. Whether it really did or not, it’s easy and delicious, and perfect for the colder weather.
What is Scotch broth?
If you haven’t had Scotch broth then think of it as Scotland’s chicken noodle soup. It has many similarities, being a base of good chicken stock, onion, carrot and celery but instead of noodles there’s barley, a grain that’s common in Scotland. True it takes longer to cook, but you just leave the soup to simmer away and the barley cooks and takes in the delicious stock flavor. It has a wonderful nuttiness to it that adds to the comfort factor of the whole dish.
How it’s made
Scotch broth is very easy to make, as all you do is soften the onion a little, add the carrot and celery, cook a minute then add the stock and barley. Bring it to a boil then simmer until the barley is cooked. It’s worth using a really good stock for this since you’ll really taste it, ideally homemade. I make stock every time we have a whole chicken, and made loads from our Thanksgiving turkey (turkey stock is pretty interchangeable with chicken). You can easily make this soup vegetarian/vegan by using vegetable stock. However, if you’re not vegetarian then I do recommend chicken stock; there’s just something about the extra flavor you get.
One thing to note about barley is it expands a lot in cooking, so what may seem like very little going in will be a whole lot more coming out! Here I’ve made a soup that’s pretty dense with barley as we like it that way and it makes it nicely filling. If you prefer more of a liquidy soup then either reduce the amount of barley or increase the stock. Hopefully the pictures give you a fairly good sense of the balance of ingredients here so use that as a guide to adjust to your taste.
A good tip I picked up somewhere if you only have a few bones and can’t make stock there and then is to freeze them. Add to the bag as you get more bones then make stock as you are ready. I also freeze stock I’m not using immediately in ice cube trays ready to use another time.
Scotch broth is wonderfully warming and comforting on a cold day, as we’ve been having a lot of recently, and one of those soups you need to have at least once a winter (or more, if you get ill a lot). Even without a cold, I know we’ll be enjoying it again soon.
Scotland's answer to chicken noodle soup is comforting, hearty and delicious.
- 1/2 onion large
- 1 carrot medium
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 tbsp butter 13g (or oil)
- 3 cups chicken stock 720ml, or vegetable stock for vegetarian version
- 1/2 cup pearl barley 100g
- A few grinds of salt and pepper
Dice the onion and cut the carrot and celery into relatively thin slices - cut larger slices in half or smaller depending on the thickness of the carrot.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion. Soften for a minute or two then add the carrot and celery. Stir so all the vegetables are coated in the butter and cook for a minute or two.
Add the stock and barley, season with a little salt and pepper, then stir and cover to bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for approx 35-45min until the barley is cooked then serve.
Try these other comforting soups: