Friday, May 13, 2011

Leftovers /Lamb Soup

What do you expect? Make a leg of lamb for a party when three of the guests cancel and you get a lot of leftovers particularly in the Ambrosino home where CW doesn't eat meat, and grandchildren don't eat! So apart from the usual lamb sandwiches and Shepard's Pie which I made, I thought I would share an old family recipe of mom's. We had a few days last week when the temperature was in the upper 50's but the humidity was up, the days were cloudy and the air felt cool because of the wind. In other words, perfect soup days. I remember my mom making  soup like this using left over lamb. She didn't make it often so when she did , it was memorable. There is something about the taste combination of lamb, carrots and barley that I have always loved. When I was a kid, I often asked mom to buy Campbell's "Scotch Broth". I don't know whether Campbell still makes it, but I liked it because it tasted like mom's version. This is Joe's version.

Start with cubes of lamb carefully trimmed of fat (mom insisted on that), onion, celery and carrots, garlic a few mushrooms and barley. My mom also used a bouillon cube and a little tomato sauce. Instead, I substituted a Canadian product, "Better Than Bouillon" which I found in my local Stop&Shop. It had reduced sodium and comes in beef or chicken base. One teaspoon of this jelled liquid is equal to one 8oz. can of broth.  Instead of tomato sauce, I substituted a few shots of Sriracha hot chili sauce.

I began with about two tablespoons of olive oil. When it was hot, I added the "aromatics", that is the carrots, onion and celery. Cook those over medium heat for about 5minutes till softened but not brown.

Next, I added the mushrooms and cooked them till they began to color (another 2-3 minutes). At this point, you can add the garlic. When you're cooking vegetables this long , you don't want to take a chance that your garlic may burn and get bitter.

Now, I add the barley and begin to stir that into the vegetables.. Notice I haven't added the meat yet. Since it is already cooked, adding it before you introduce liquid to the pot in my opinion, does nothing but overcooks the meat. If I were making this with raw meat, I would brown the meat first, then remove it and cook the vegetables as I have shown.

Here you see I have added a few shots of the Sriracha prior to adding the meat and broth. Please let me emphasize that there are a number of possibilities when making a soup like this with leftover meat. I believe celery and onions are essential, but anything else like beans, pasta (instead of barley), potato,  spinach, or  tomato sauce can be added or substituted. Next, add the broth or bouillon and water. Add enough because the barley needs about 40 minutes to cook.Copy what you have learned or seen others do or experiment. It's your dish, your cooking. Buon appetito!


  1. My mom made this almost every time we had lamb--she'd use the bone to help flavor the broth. Perhaps every Italian family has something they do with leftover lamb. My husband's family always used the leftover lamb and bone to make spaghetti sauce (gravy)--it's different from what I'm used to but gives it an interesting flavor

  2. Yup.That's your grandmother's way. Unfortunately, ours was a boneless leg so I used the bouillon to make up for that.I've seen many recipes for lamb gravy as you call it, but our family (Grandma Fannie)never cooked like that.

  3. Joe,
    I'm a little behind, but it's so nice to see you back. I've been catching up tonight. Everything looks fantastic, as always. And your Easter breads ... perfetto!! Welcome back! You've been missed!

  4. Nice way to recycle leftovers!Have a great week,dear Joe!