Scotch Broth (Scottish Barley Soup)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil ( butter or lard works too)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, diced
  • 1 leek, washed, and sliced
  • 1 medium or half a large rutabaga, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock*
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup pearl barley**
  • 1/2 cup dried red split lentils
  • 1-2 cups sliced kale (or green cabbage)
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced (optional) ***
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, and sliced leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 6-8 minutes until everything starts to get soft and has some color. 
  2. Next, add dried sage, and bay leaves stock and rutabaga and parsnips. Bring to a gentle simmer then stir in the barley and red ( or whatever color) lentils. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid, and simmer gently for 40-50 mins or until the barley is tender.  
  3. Add in the kale and stir well (add more stock as needed to make sure everything is covered). Simmer for another 5-10 minutes until kale has softened. 
  4. Serve with parsley and salt and pepper to taste.


* Traditional Scotch Broth often calls for lamb broth as well as shredded lamb.

** Some scotch broth has just barley, some mixes different lentil types, split peas etc. with barley (what is called soup  mix in the UK)- choose your own adventure/ whatever you have in your pantry. Depending on what you add- it could take a full hour for everything to be tender so continue to check as you cook.

***You can also add 1-2 medium potatoes 

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