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How To Make Scotch Broth: A Traditional Scottish Soup Recipe

Updated on February 11, 2012

Scotch Broth: An Authentic Hearty Soup From Scotland

Scotch Broth is an authentic Scottish soup that’s warming, hearty and full of flavor. Also called Hotchpotch or Hotch-Potch, Scotch Broth is a potage made of boiled mutton, barley, swedes (rutabaga), onions, carrots, leeks, and celery. This dish originates from austere times in Scotland’s history when scrapping a meager living from the land was the best most could hope for. As such, the mutton could be changed to marrowbone or whatever cut of meat or fowl was available at the time. Similarly, the choice of vegetables and how much were used was also dictated by availability.

Scotch Broth by Andy Warhol
Scotch Broth by Andy Warhol

Although companies like Campbell’s and Heinz produce tinned versions of the soup all year round, making Scotch Broth is traditionally a winter activity. This tradition is still pretty much followed by restaurants and home cooks.

To be honest, tinned Scotch Broth doesn’t come close to the hearty flavorsome home made variety. Campbell's tinned Scotch Broth was immortalized by Andy Warhol in a 1969 painting.

In a survey conducted by the National Food Trust to find the top ten national dishes of Scotland, Scotch Broth ranked amongst the top contenders. Only three dishes, Cranachan, Aberdeen Angus Beef and Smoked Salmon proved to be more popular.

Scotch Broth Recipe


  • 2.2 litres water
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 2lb (1kg) Mutton
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 large chopped leek
  • 3oz (75g) split peas
  • 3oz (75g) pearl barley
  • 3 carrots peeled and diced
  • ¼ Small cabbage shredded
  • 1 medium swede (rutabaga) peeled and diced
  • 2 sticks celery


  1. Soak the pearl barley and the split peas for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably overnight (rinse before adding to pot)
  2. Trim fat from mutton
  3. Place mutton, barley and peas in cold water and slowly bring to a simmer
  4. Simmer for 45 minutes with lid on skimming any fat or residue that floats to the surface
  5. Add the remaining vegetables and simmer gently until lamb is thoroughly cooked
  6. Remove lamb from pot and separate the meat from the bone
  7. Return meat to pot
  8. Serve while hot

More Traditional Scottish Recipes


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      5 years ago

      In my younger days it was 'sheep's heed broth' made from a ''sheep's head' , which was cleaved into chunks put in a large pot with peas and barley, neeps peeled and cut into small squares leaving enough larger chunks so that everyone got one in their plate, and a bunch of seibies cut into small pieces then brought to the boil over the fire and simmered on a trivet. As mum spooned the delicious soup out we kids couldn't wait to sup it up and we always kept the peas till the last and poured some vinegar over them in a saucer. OMG I can still taste it

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      8 years ago

      Peter Hoggan, My mother used to make Scotch broth in honor of her own father's maternal grandmother from Scotland. So it's beautifully nostalgic to find your authentic, hearty, tasty scotch broth.

      Thank you for sharing, voted up + all,


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Morning Peter.

      This is great and brings back memories.

      Having lived over here in Germany for the last 20 odd years you tend to forget a few things from your younger years and reading your hub certainly brought some back.

      I've book marked this and will be giving it go with loving, hungry feelings.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Take care and have a great weekend.

      LOL Ghaelach

    • Peter Hoggan profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Hoggan 

      8 years ago from Scotland

      Hi stessily, it's one of my favorites as well especially during the cold Scottish winter months.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Scotch broth is one of my all-time favorite soups. I grew up with it and I have never tired of it. Thanks for the recipe; now I don't have to dig for mine. I always have most of the ingredients on hand, especially pearl barley and split peas. A stop at the store on the way home, and my crock pot awaits.

      Thanks for sharing.


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