14 September 2010

Lamb soup with preserved lemons

The idea for this soup comes from the second Moro book where they do a steamed lamb dish. This is a soup version of this with lamb neck (scrag). It's super cheap and tasty. It's well quick to prepare, though needs a couple of hours on the hob.

The prep time is very low and you can forgo browning the meat for ease (I'm still on the fence about the value of browning, Harold (McGee) says that the idea of sealing the juices in is nonsense but it does get the wicked Malliard reaction started and the roast meat flavour going on, still are you gonna notice that in a big stew or soup, I don't know...ho hum. If I do brown meat I reckon putting on in a non stick frying pan on a high heat so it gets really brown is the one, I'm not sure a gentle browning serves much purpose, answers on a postcard.) Lamb neck is such a great ingredient - it made me realise it's the lamb version of oxtail (and half the price). It's rich in collagen and gelatine, the bone gives amazing flavour for stocks and sauces and the meat can be shredded and put back into the dish.

I'd really recommend preserving your own lemons. I did mine from the same Moro book and they taste amazing. They need to sit in the salt solution for around three months but are just so good and much cheaper than buying them - they taste like a grown-up lemon sherbet, all salt and savour.

Garlic, cumin and chilli fried in olive oil really sum up the taste of Turkish soups and stews to me and are a great base from which you can just add anything, eg chickpeas and spinach and bread and have something good to eat.


    • 1 scrag end of lamb cut into large chunks (mine was just over three quid in Turkish shop)
    • preserved lemons
    • two big potatoes / a tin of chickpeas / a handful of barley
    • parsley or coriander (I know they don't taste that similar but both would be fine here)
    • 2 onions
    • garlic
    • cumin
    • dried chilli
    • olive oil

  1. Fry the onions in olive oil for five minutes.
  2. Add four garlic cloves chopped roughly, one tablespoon of cumin and one of chilli flakes (Turkish shops good for this) and one large or two small preserved lemons rinsed and chopped. Fry for another five minutes.
  3. Trim any excess fat from the lamb and pull out the spinal cord sections if you fancy. Brown if you can be bothered.
  4. Add to the pan with the veg and fry for a couple of minutes before adding a litre or so of boiling water. Cook on lowest heat for one hour and a quarterish.
  5. Check out the meat and if really soft take out and take meat off bone.
  6. Add the potato, chickpeas or barley. The chickpeas will only take a minute to warm up but the other things longer natch so simmer accordingly.
  7. Add the meat back to the soup and check seasoning - add salt (shouldn't need much as lemons are pretty salty), plenty of pepper and a bit more lemon or juice from the lemons if need be (the lemon should provide an amazing background tang that cuts through the richness of the lamb fat). Add the herbs - I like lots of flat leaf parsley here.

There you go, it's rich and meaty as you would expect, comforting flavours for the colder weather. You could put anything in really - tomatoes towards the end, courgette, more chilli etc.If there is some left and you stick it in the fridge you can skim off the fat from the top when cool if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Source: Moro and me. Verdict: tasty.

PS Blog still a bit rubbish probably but hold tight I'm working on it. :)

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