Bryan Webb


During the very cold winter days a good hot soup or broth is what is needed to warm us up; in Wales the traditional broth is called Cawl.

Cawl the “all in one stew”, was at one time the staple diet of many welsh families, the meat from the pot served at one meal, with the broth kept overnight for the next day. Many of the older generation remember it with affection and a few of the younger generation still make it. cawl

With our modern healthy eating habits the recipe for Cawl has seen changes over the years; the meat is leaner, the vegetables more abundant and both served well skimmed of fat.

Ways of making Cawl varies from region to region of Wales and in most cases using simply with what is to hand. I have read recipes for Cawl using bacon and brisket of beef, but coming from the south I have always used lamb, it would be good if Prince Charles called for mutton to be used more, to make the Cawl with mutton.

Another soup excellent for cold winter days is split pea, ham and vegetable, this is one of my mum’s favourites, just boil a ham hock in a large pot of water for one hour, skimming the top as scum forms, then add a 200g packet of dried split peas and cook for twenty minutes, finally add diced root vegetables such as swede, parsnips, celeriac and carrots, once they are cooked add some chopped leeks and cook for a further ten minutes, this is just a rough guide but use as much or little and selection of vegetables as you wish. When making these types of soup it is always better in large amounts and the beauty of them is whatever is left over freezes well.

Cawl makes about 10 good portions


- 1 kilo of shoulder of lamb
- 2 onions
- 4 large carrots
- 1 swede
- 2 parsnips
- 2 leeks
- 1 small celeriac or 3 celery sticks
- A few sprigs of thyme and parsley
- 2 large potatoes peeled

1. Bone out the shoulder of lamb or ask the butcher to do it for you but keep the bones and ask for some extra.

2. Cut the meat into small dice removing any large pieces of fat and any sinew.

3. Peel the root vegetables and cut into a small dice the same size as the meat, clean the leeks and chop and also chopped the onion.

4. In a large saucepan heat a little oil and fry the meat until brown, remove the meat from the pan onto a tray or plate, then fry the onion for a few minutes but do not colour.

5. Put the meat back in the pan with all the vegetables except the leeks, mix well and cover with cold water and add the lamb bones. Bring to the boil, skim and add the parsley and thyme, simmer for about 1 hour adding more water if needed. Add the leeks and simmer until tender.

6. Remove the bones and herbs, check the seasoning and serve. If using the potatoes add after 30 minutes of cooking.