Lamb and barley soup

Lamb and barley soup

Something for Everyone
Ben Dearnley

Similar to a Scotch broth (which often has dried pulses added to it), this soup gets the thumbs-up from my Scottish grandma. If barley is not a grain you cook with much, give it a go – it has a lovely texture and is also a good source of fibre and protein.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 lamb shanks, trimmed
2 large onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 litres reduced-salt beef stock, (see note)
or 2 litres reduced-salt chicken stock, (see note)
250g pearl barley
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 small parsnips, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon italian parsley, chopped, to garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the lamb shanks and cook for about 5 minutes, turning to brown all over. Remove the shanks from the pan and set aside. Add the onion, garlic and celery to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened.
  2. Return the shanks to the pan and add the stock, barley, rosemary and 500 ml water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Add the carrot and parsnip for the final 20 minutes of cooking – they should be tender when done.
  3. Remove the shanks from the soup and set aside to cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bone and flake into pieces, discarding the bones. Return the meat to the soup and stir through.
  4. Divide the soup among serving bowls and serve garnished with a little parsley.

Baby’s serve

  • For a younger baby, blend the soup until smooth, using as much of the broth as needed to achieve the desired consistency. For an older baby, keep the blended texture lumpier or simply chop up the lamb and vegetables (if needed) and serve as is.

Toddler’s serve

  • Serve as is, with toast fingers for dipping and a short-handled spoon.


  • When making soups for your children, always use a reduced-salt, preferably home-made, stock. Babies’ developing kidneys, in particular, can’t handle much salt and it can cause them to become dehydrated.
Something for Everyone
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