I’ve lost my taste for fatty cuts of lamb, which are out of step with how I cook and eat today. Luckily, it’s easy to buy lean portions of boneless leg of lamb that can be cut into strips for stir-frying or grilling, cubed for kebabs or diced for a soup. The last is what I’ve done here.
Leeks and potatoes are the main ingredients, with a parsnip thrown in for sweetness and cumin for a little background flavor. Pearl barley brings substance and a slight thickening to the broth.
Make Ahead: The soup can be made a day in advance.
Servings: 8 - 10
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of all fat, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 1/4 pounds leeks (see NOTE)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup pearl barley (see headnote)
- 1/2 pound all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and woody core removed, the remaining flesh cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 4-quart soup pot. Add the lamb in batches, taking care not to crowd the pieces. Sear for a few minutes, stirring a few times, until the lamb loses its raw look. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a clean plate or bowl. Repeat to sear all of the lamb.
Add the leeks and salt (to taste) to the pot; reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are soft. Add the cumin and pepper to taste; cook for 1 minute. Add the broth, water, barley and cooked lamb; cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium or as needed to maintain a low boil. Cook for about 1 hour, until the barley is tender.
Add the potatoes and parsnip; cook covered for 15 to 20 minutes, maintaining a slow boil, until the vegetables are tender. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Divide among individual bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
NOTE: To clean the leeks thoroughly, first trim away the dark green parts and root end. Cut the leeks lengthwise in half and rinse in cold water. Cut the leeks crosswise into thin slices and submerge in a large bowl of cold water to soak for 20 minutes. Use a strainer to remove the leeks from the water; pat dry.
From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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