The preparation for this dish is reasonably time consuming with all the chopping and browning but it is well worth it. Particularly as it makes a truly mammoth amount of soup. We get up to five family meals from one batch. Ideally, I would do this in my mammoth stock pot but as I’m lazy about stirring, I generally use my 6.5l slow cooker and curse myself at wash up time as it overflows and is a right bugger to clean.
Ordinarily I am neglectful when it comes to browning things before I throw them in the slow cooker but I think for this dish, it is well worth the extra effort. Getting that colour into the meat and vegetables really does impart a wonderful flavour to the finished soup.
I used the pan I had used for the breakfast bacon for this batch so the meat and veg were browned in a combination of olive oil and bacon fat which worked wonders on the meat. I used diced lamb chops instead of shanks as I got 12 for them for a song. I think shanks give a better end result though.I also whipped up some pita bread and served it on the side, straight from the oven. A perfect accompaniment.
Lamb Shank Soup with Pearl Barley and Lentils
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
4 lamb shanks, cut into 3 cm pieces
salt and black pepper
3 brown onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves chopped
2 leeks trimmed, chopped
1/2 celery, chopped
4 carrots chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp black pepper
1-2 tspn caraway seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
1 pinch saffron threads
2.5 litres water (or as much as your can fit in your pot up to that amount)
1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons stock concentrate
3/4 cup pear barley
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup dried haricot beans, soaked overnight
1/2 cup dried chickpeas , soaked overnight
1 cup frozen peas
1 handful chopped mint, coriander + parsley (whatever you like, just one, or all three)
plain greek style yogurt to serve
juice of 2 lemons to serve
- Using some of the oil, brown the lamb shanks, remove, place in slow cooker turned to high and season with salt and pepper
- Heat remaining oil, add onion, garlic, vegies, leeks, spices and saffron, cook until slightly reduced and just starting to take on some colour.
- Add the ingredients above plus tomatoes, stock, beans, chickpeas, barley, lentils and water to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 – 6 hours or on low for 10 – 12 hours.
- Serve with a dollop of yogurt, a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh herbs.