It’s mid-January, which means Blue Monday, miserable weather, dark nights, colds and bugs and still a long old wait until pay day. On top of that many of us are steadfastly trying to stick with our new years resolutions of healthy eating and working out when all we really want to do is crawl under a blanket and hibernate until spring.
What we need is comfort food, something warming and nourishing, packed with vitamins and minerals to keep our immune systems strong and our energy levels topped up but also something that is easy on our post-Christmas wallets.
Which is probably why I found myself cooking this scotch broth recipe for the second time this month, it is a perfect dish for this time of year. Not only is it super comforting and warming on a cold January night, it is also full of vegetables, healthy grains and pulses and is a really cheap way to feed the whole family (my kids love it).
The broth does take approximately one hour to make but for much of that time you can leave it simmering away and just pop back to check that it is not drying out. The only thing to bear in mind is that you will need to be organised and soak the broth mix in the morning as it requires 8 hours soaking time. However, this is quick and easy, just measure the mix out, pop it into a saucepan, cover with cold water and put the lid on.
You can pick up a packet of soup and broth mix from the wholefoods section in most supermarkets for little more that £1 for 500g. The mix I used is from Tesco’s and contains pearl barley, split peas and lentils so a great combination of protein and good quality slow release carbohydrates. This recipe is therefore great for sustained energy levels and leaves you feeling full. The only other ingredients are vegetables, herbs and stock so per head this recipe is very budget friendly.
The choice of vegetables is really up to you and what I use will often depend on what I have hanging around but the vegetables in the recipe (bar the celery) are seasonably available and therefore locally grown and fresher which means more vitamins are retained. Similarly with the herbs, just go with what you have, fresh or dried, thyme, rosemary, bay and sage all work well. Instead of savoy cabbage you could use spring greens or kale or really any other greens you have available.
Unlike many soups, scotch broth is really very filling so there is no need for anything on the side, making it a perfect one pot supper or lunch. For a comforting, cheap, healthy, vegetarian and vegan friendly meal I don’t think you can do much better.
Serves: 4 generous helpings Cooking time: 45-60 minutes
200g soup broth mix
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
2 sticks of celery
1/2 small swede
1/2 savoy cabbage
1 vegetable stock cube
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1. Soak the soup and broth mix in cold water for 8 hours before you want to cook it (or according to packet instructions).
2. Dice the onion, leeks, celery, carrots, swede and potatoes and place in a large pan with the oil. Put the pan onto a low heat with the lid on for 5 minutes until the veg has started to soften. Stir frequently to avoid it catching.
3. Drain and thoroughly rinse the broth mix and add to the pan with the vegetables
4. Cover everything with boiling water, crumble in the stock cube, add the herbs and black pepper and mix well.
5. Simmer on a low heat for 40-50 minutes, stir occasionally and keep an eye on the liquid level during this time and top up as necessary.
6. Shred the cabbage and add to the pan 5 minutes before the end of cooking time.
7. The broth is ready to serve when the broth mix has softened but is still slightly firm to the bite.