Vegetarian Scotch Broth

A meat-free version of a classic Scottish soup.

Vegan. Hands-on time: 15 mins. Total time: 1 hour 30 mins.

Contributed by Mike Lewis (July 2011).

Vegetarian Scotch Broth

Photo © Mike Lewis

Scotch broth is the epitome of good rustic food. It's filling, nourishing, economical, and capable of being adapted to whatever ingredients you have to hand. More than just a soup, it's more like a complete meal in a bowl.

Scotch broth is traditionally made with lamb or mutton. But it's perfectly possible to cook up a vegetarian version, as this recipe proves. That's because the defining ingredient is not meat, but barley. It's barley that gives the soup its characteristic taste, and it's barley that provides most of the protein.

As you probably realize, this is not the sort of recipe that you need to follow slavishly. In particular, feel free to vary the mix of vegetables, depending on what you have available.

This recipe for vegetarian Scotch broth makes about four substantial bowls.



Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, and sauté for a few minutes until it begins to soften.

Peel or clean the vegetables as appropriate, and cut them into small chunks. Add these to the pan, and continue to sauté for about ten minutes. Give them an occasional stir.

Add about 4 cups (1 liter, 35 fl. oz) of water, and bring to the boil. Then add the remaining ingredients.

Simmer for an hour or more, or at least until the barley is completely cooked. Add a little extra water if the broth starts to dry out (this will happen as the barley absorbs the water).

Serve hot.

Note on quantities and temperatures:
Quantities are given in American (cups), imperial (oz, fl oz) and metric (g, ml) units. Do not mix the units - use one or other system throughout the recipe.
See also How much does a cup weigh?
oz = ounces, fl oz = fluid ounces, g = grams, ml = milliliters, tsp = teaspoons, tbsp = tablespoons.
Oven temperatures are given in degrees F (Fahrenheit) and C (Celsius).
For fan-assisted ovens, reduce the temperature by 20F or 10C.