Sheep’s Head and Trotter Soup

If a sheep’s head is served whole, the meat is eaten, then the brain is extracted and and offered first to a guest or to the head of the household, and then passed round for others to help themselves.

Cold sheep’s head has become so popular that you will find it being sold on street corners and at railway stations in every Anatolian town. In Diyarbakır in southeastern Anatolia the menfolk usually have a dish of hot sheep’s head and trotters for breakfast at the market before starting work.


  • 1 skinned sheep’s head
  • 6 skinned trotters
  • 100 g/ oz onions, quartered
  • small bunch parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 L/7 pints water
  • salt to taste
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 50 ml/2 fl oz vinegar or lemon juice

For the Sauce

  • 50 g/2 oz suet, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Onion juice
  • 50 g/2 oz lamb, finely chopped
  • 1 marrow bone, cracked into 3
  • 2 cloves
  • 1.25 cm/½ inch stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp red pepper


Split open the jaw and thoroughly clean the snout by hitting it on a marble slab. Immerse the head in plenty of water in a bowl and soak for 1 hour. Repeat the cleaning and washing process and place the head in a pan.

Wash the trotters thoroughly and add them to the pan, with the onions, parsley and bay leaves. Fill it up with cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off the scum, then cover and simmer on very low heat for 10-12 hours until the meat from the head and trotters comes off the bone. (If using a pressure cooker, cook for 1 hour.)

Strain the cooking liquid into a clean pan and reserve. Remove the meat from the bones, return to the cooking liquid and bring to the boil. Add salt to taste. Cook for 10 minutes.

Crush the garlic with the vinegar or lemon juice. Stir into the soup and pour into a soup tureen.

For the sauce, render the suet in a small pan. Add the onion juice, lamb, marrow bone, cloves and cinnamon. Fry until the meat is well cooked. Strain off the fat, add the red pepper, cook for 1 minute then remove from the heat. When the pepper settles at the bottom, strain off the fat and pour it thinly over the surface of the soup.