Rich Lamb Soups for Cool Autumn Days Part 2

This is the second in a three part series on my favorite lamb soups. You can read the first part here.

When I was a kid, my mother made a thick barley soup with homemade toasted croutons. The combination of the soft, tomato-y soup with the crunchy savory croutons was one I never forgot.

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My mom kept her recipes on index cards held together with metal rings and a brown luan cover that said “recipes”. Most of the recipes were handwritten by my mother directly on the cards or cut from magazines and taped on. Of course, scotch tape turns yellow and brittle after a few decades and hole punched index cards inevitably tear. 

When mom passed away, my favorite sister, Linne, took mom’s little brown index card recipe “book” and turned it into a beautiful keepsake cookbook made from handmade paper. She gave it to me for Christmas that year. It was 1999. My oldest, Celia, was just a baby. 


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Thumbing through the pages, I came across mom’s barley soup recipe, complete with crouton making instructions! I had to make it! Finding soup bones proved to be a bit of a challenge. But I managed to find some and made this wonderful soup for my family.

My mom always made this recipe with beef bones. After we started raising lamb, I began using lamb bones instead of beef bones because I had plenty of them in my freezer. 

I suppose grass fed lamb bones weren’t easy to find back in the 70s. Of course, now you can get grass fed lamb, complete with the bones, from us

This recipe takes about 90 minutes to prep and cook, assuming you have the broth already made.

Lamb Barley Soup with Savory Croutons

Serves 6-8

Ingredients for Soup

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  • 8 cups lamb broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Lots of ground black peppercorns
  • 1-1/4 cups pearl or hulled barley
  • ½ t dried thyme
  • ½ t dried oregano
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced (I used peeled and cubed sweet potatoes because I had them on hand. Cubed and peeled winter squash works too.)
  • Bits of meat picked off the lamb bones or 1 lb ground lamb, browned & crumbled (optional)
  • (1) 28 oz can tomatoes, chopped, pureed, or crushed, depending on what you prefer. I used crushed. 
  • 2 cups sweet corn, frozen, canned, or fresh
  • 2 cups green beans or sweet peas, frozen or fresh, my mom always used peas.
  • 2 t salt, or to taste


Instructions for Soup

  1. In a 6 quart pot, place lamb broth, barley, onion, black pepper, thyme, and oregano. Bring to a boil then turn down and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
  2. Add tomato and carrots (or other orange veggies) and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add sweet corn and green beans or peas. Simmer for 10 minutes if frozen, 5 minutes if fresh or canned.
  4. Add salt to taste and serve with (or without) Savory Croutons


Ingredients for Savory Croutons

  • Several slices of bread. I use our No Knead Sourdough bread.
  • ¼ cup Foggy Knob Farm Ghee or ¼ lb Foggy Knob Farm Butter
  • Salt
  • Garlic and/or onion powder
  • Parmesan (optional….I rarely have this on hand so use the salt & garlic powder instead)


Instructions for Savory Croutons

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cube bread and place it in a bowl.
  3. Melt ghee or butter in a small saucepan. Pour over your cubed bread and toss to coat them. Melt more ghee or butter if they are not well coated and repeat.
  4. Sprinkle bread cubes with salt, spices, and optional cheese.
  5. Spread in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until bread cubes are crisp.

Serve your steaming hot Lamb Barley Soup in bowls with the Savory Croutons on the side (so they don’t get soggy before you can eat them!)

Now to be honest, I rarely make the croutons and serve this with crusty bread and butter. It is less stressful that way. So don’t skip this wonderful soup because you don’t have time for the croutons. They are really good though!

As an aside, my father claims that mom got this recipe off the side of the box the barley came in. Well, it’s my recipe now! And I hope yours too.

This is the second soup I have made from the same batch of lamb bone broth. I’ve just pulled the broth off, added more water, and kept it all simmering.

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