Home Recipes Lamb shank & black barley broth

Lamb shank & black barley broth


This beautiful, nutritious lamb broth is an adaptation of my late grandmother’s recipe – and when I made it for this photograph the distinctive aroma and delicate taste of the glistening broth transported me straight back at the kitchen bench in the New Norcia farmhouse where I spent most of my childhood holidays. Funny how food memories can do that.

I’ve made a few updates to Grandma’s original recipe, most notably replacing the pearl barley with the beautiful black barley quite serendipitously grown by Rodger Duggan, also in New Norcia, not far from where my Grandparent’s farm was.

I’m quite confident Grandma would be thrilled to be able to use a locally grown heirloom grain in the recipe! I also added garlic (because I think it really adds to the immune-boosting properties of the soup) and replaced celery with leek – because it’s quite difficult to find good locally grown celery this time of year.

We ate this soup often at the farm, and it was always my request if I had a cold or flu, so I thought it was quite appropriate in this COVID-season. I’ve used Dorper lamb shanks grown at our farm in Mooliabeenee and they are so soft and delicious cooked this way! I hope you enjoy it…

2 large lamb shanks
2 whole garlic bulbs cut in half across the width of the cloves
A sprig of rosemary
A drizzle of olive oil
1 finely chopped white onion
2 finely chopped carrots
1 finely chopped leek
4 cups water
2/3 cup black barley
A sprig of parsley, to serve
A loaf sourdough bread

Firstly, place the lamb shanks and garlic bulbs in a roasting pan or bench top convection oven and drizzle with olive oil. Crumble rosemary over them, then roast them for 30 minutes at 20 deg C until crispy and fragrant.

Place finely chopped veggies in a slow cooker and add roasted shanks. Squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves onto the shanks, discarding the shell.

Add water and turn slow cooker onto low. Cook for 4-5 hours to really cook the goodness out of the bones and into the broth. Then add the black barley and cook for a further 40 minutes. Rest for half an hour before serving.

You can shred the soft, succulent meat from the bones, or just let it fall into the broth. Some people like to cool the broth and scoop off the fat, but I quite like the rich flavour in the liquid.

Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and a chunk of sourdough bread. We loved to rip up chunks of bread to float in the broth then scoop them out with a soup spoon – so good.