Scotch Broth

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Scotch broth or barley broth, probably the best-known member of the broth clan, and one of the most famous Scottish dishes, is typically prepared by boiling beef and barley, adding vegetables (carrot, swede, onion or white of leek, parsley) and a very little sugar. When cooking is completed, the broth is served with more chopped parsley and chopped green of leek and seasoning; the meat may be still in it, or may be served separately.

There are, as is natural with a dish of this kind, many variations. One of the earliest recipes, that of Mrs Cleland (1755), used as vegetables just some heads of celery, with some marigolds; and the meat was provided by a boiling fowl or cock, not beef. Some recipes include potatoes, cooked with or separately, and according to Catherine Brown (1985) the broth ‘is often eaten with a large mealy potato making an island in the centre of the soup plate’.