2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, thickly sliced.
2 parsnips, roughly chopped
1 small swede (rutabaga), roughly chopped
800g lamb, such as boned shoulder, trimmed and cut into bitesize pieces (if you have the bone throw it in too for extra flavour.)
Lamb or vegetable stock
2 tbsp fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried. (I get a few sprigs and tie them in a loose knot.)
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped quite small.
2 small leeks, trimmed washed and finely sliced.
Handful of chopped parsley]
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Salt the raw meat before you begin cooking. Use up to a teaspoon, according to taste. In a cookbook called Salt Fat Acid Heat I learnt that meat which is salted in advance (many hours in advance if you get around to it) comes out far tastier and more tender. This is what chefs do. You also end up requiring less salt overall if you add it to the raw meat instead of at the end.
Heat a large frying pan and add half the oil. Stir in the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and swede (you may need to do two batches. Cook them, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and then lift them into a very large saucepan or slow cooker.
In the same pan, quickly brown the seasoned lamb in the remaining oil in two batches and add it to the veg.
Pour enough stock over the ingredients to just cover them and add the thyme and a little pepper. Now you need to cook the broth on a very low heat. It shouldn’t bubble much, just very slightly. This is the secret to tender meat. I find it difficult to manage this on my hob (too hot) so if I have time I use a slow cooker, on its lowest setting. Mine is absolutely enormous (ie difficult to fill) and that means it cooks too fast. Two hours is plenty. All slow cookers are different, so if that’s what you’re using I’d recommend consulting the instructions. On the hob I’d give it an hour and a half with the lid on until the next stage. (If scum appears on top of the broth, skim it off.)
Peel and chop the spuds, add them, replace the lid and cook for ten more minutes while you wash and slice the leeks. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or pepper to taste. Add the white part of the leeks, then five minutes later add the green. Cook for a few minutes more, until the leeks are tender, and stir in half the parsley.
Serve the broth with the remaining parsley sprinkled on top.