With Jan out of town, I made a lamb stew for Sunday night’s dinner. I also made this lamb soup. Son-in-law, Chris, asked why I did not simply throw everything into one pot. In my mind I had an image of the thick, rich lamb stew and a second vegetable soup with lamb bone broth. While it may all end up in the same place, it would not be the same dining experience to mix the two dishes.
The large bones I had to use—3 leg and 2 pelvis bones—would need to be covered in water to stew properly. To make a stew with these kinds of bones, the usual solution would be to add some starchy grain—barley, farro or rice—to absorb the excess liquid. Myr and Chris are on the Atkins diet, which means no starches. This meant I could only use these bones to make a soup.
Note: For the starch eaters, I made some farro on the side to be added to the soup at the table.
Karl’s Lamb Bone Soup with Cabbage and Green Beans
1½ lb. lamb bones with a little meat still on the bones
1 Tbs. olive oil
¾ cup yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt, to taste
½ tsp. black pepper, cracked
32 oz. low sodium vegetable broth
½ cup farro (optional, see the note after step 5)
2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups green cabbage, coarsely chopped
1. Put the bones on a baking tray and broil for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides.
Tip: Lining the tray with foil will make cleanup easier.
Note: This is not a step to skip. Much of the flavor of lamb comes from the complex compounds created during the Maillard reaction when the meat is browned. It is uncomplicated to sear pieces of meat in a pan, but it is easier to broil oddly shaped bones.
2. Add the oil to a soup pot and sauté the onions and celery in the salt until soft, about five minutes.
3. Add the bones, pepper, and broth to the pot.
Tip: Use a hammer, or the back of a heavy cleaver, to break any leg bones that are whole. This will make it easier to extract the marrow from the hot bones later.
4. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 3-6 hours.
Tip: Pour some hot water on the broiling tray and scrape any fond free. Add this liquid gold to the soup.
5. Remove and cool the bones slightly.
Note: I was making this soup for dinners who were on the Atkins diet, which meant I had to cook the farro separately. If you are not going to do this, add the farro now and simmer for 30 minutes before adding the vegetables.
6. Remove any meat scraps and the marrow from inside the long bones and return them to the pot.
7. Add the green beans and cabbage and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
8. Check the seasoning and add more pepper and salt, if necessary.
Note: I added almost another teaspoon of salt.
9. Serve warm with cooked farro on the side.
Note: To make my farro as a side dish—I took a cup and a half of the bone broth from the soup pot and simmered the farro for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid had been absorbed and the farro was al dente.