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

  1. Using some of the oil, brown the lamb shanks, remove, place in slow cooker turned to high and season with salt and pepper
  2. Heat remaining oil, add onion, garlic, vegies, leeks, spices and saffron, cook until slightly reduced and just starting to take on some colour.
  3. 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.
  4. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh herbs.