bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lamb and Barley Stew

This cool Fall weather has me thinking soup!  I made this a few weeks back, and we really liked it.  It makes a very satisfying meal served with a crusty bread, and the lamb gives it a distinctive flavor that really sets it apart.  Also, I love barley.  I only recently starting using it regularly - why did I wait so long? - and I adore it.

Lamb and Barley Stew
adapted from Nourished Kitchen

  • 1 cup barley, not quick
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup split peas
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 10-12 cups water, plus more for soaking the peas and barley
  • fresh spinach, washed and chopped (1 or 2 cups)
  1. Place barley in a small bowl and cover with about 1 cup warm water; stir in cider vinegar. In a separate bowl, cover the split peas with warm water. Leave both bowls in a warm room for 12 to 24 hours.
  2. After the soaking time has passed, heat a large pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add ground lamb.  As lamb begins to cook, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic to the pot, and cook until lamb is browned and vegetables soften, stirring often.  You may need to add a little butter or olive oil to keep things from over-browning or sticking to the pan, if your lamb is too lean.
  3. Season lamb and veggies with thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Add your 10-12 cups water - depending on how thick you want your soup and/or if you want to serve it right away. 
  4. Drain barley and split peas and rinse well; add them to the pot.  Bring the soup to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until barley, peas, and vegetables are cooked.
  5. Add spinach to the pot; simmer for 7 minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Time-saving tip:  Chop all the vegetables the day before or early in the day (when you start the barley and split peas soaking).  Store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator until you're ready to add them to the soup.

While you can serve this soup right away (with that crusty bread), it is better - like most soups are - if you make it one day and then reheat it the next.  If you want to serve it the same day you make it, try using the 10 cups of water instead of 12.  Your soup will be much thinner the first time you serve it, but it thickens up more each time it's reheated.  You know how soup is - it gets better and better every time you reheat it, until it's GONE.  (Time to make more!)

The original recipe called for a lamb shank instead of the ground lamb.  I inventoried my freezer yesterday and found that I have two lamb shanks - so I'm going to try it that way next time.  I also have a bunch of kale right now, for which I substituted spinach in my recipe.  I think I'm going to have to make this again.  Soon.  Just to see which way we like it best.  The beauty of soup - besides being a warm, comforting meal on a cool fall or winter day - is that you can substitute the ingredients you have and come up with something uniquely yours.

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