Irish Lamb Stew

With Saint Patrick’s Day coming up, I thought I would tap into my Irish roots and experiment with some Irish flavors. I liked corned beef just fine, but I thought it would be fun to do something a little different. Lamb, potatoes, and cabbage is a very Irish combination, but I found that most lamb stews called for a very expensive amount of lamb. So to make a more frugal version, I cut back a bit on the lamb, added some white beans to the mix and seasoned with parsley, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns ( I am told that those seasonings are “Irish” as well).

We liked this soup a lot. It was very rich and nourishing. The lamb shank releases a lot of good- for- you gelatin into the soup, making it thicker. It also gives a very nice lamby taste without being too overwhelming (for moderate lamb lovers like myself). My husband described it as “warming” and “mild” and liked the lamb flavor quite a bit. It was comfort food that could also be enjoyed by my 18 month old daughter. I have had to cut back on spicy recipes so that she can eat the same dinner as us, so it was nice to find that a more traditional lamb stew has the flavor we like, but remains mild enough for us to feed to baby as well.

I didn’t brown the lamb shank, like some recipes did, because I read that it wasn’t traditionally done (and it saved me a step too!). I did add a little white wine into this recipe, though I doubt it is a traditional ingredient. Feel free to leave it out, or up it for more flavor. For those of you who can’t enjoy comfort food without some hotness, you could spike it with some cayenne pepper, but I truthfully think that it would mask the subtle flavors of the soup. If you have fresh thyme, that would be even better than the dried I used. Add to taste.

Irish Lamb Stew-makes 8- 12 servings

2 cups of cannellini white beans (soaked in water for at least 12 hours, then rinsed well before use)
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of oil
1 lamb shank (mine weighed a little over a pound)
12 cups of chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns, tied in cheesecloth or placed in an enclosed tea strainer

In a large pot, heat oil over med-high heat and add onions when oil is hot. Stir onions until they are soft, then add white beans, lamb shank, broth, peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a very low simmer, and cook for 2-3 hours, until beans are soft.

Then add:

6 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into large cubes
2 teaspoons of dried thyme
1/3 cup of white wine

Salt and pepper the broth at this point, so that the potatoes don’t taste bland in the middle. Cook for ten minutes , then add:

One half of a green cabbage, cut into medium sized , chunky pieces

Cook for another ten minutes or so, just until cabbage is tender. During the last few minutes of cooking, add:

1/2 cups of finely chopped parsley

Take out the bay leaves, peppercorns and lamb shank. Shred the meat from the shank and add back to soup. Taste for flavor and adjust with salt and pepper.

Serve with a sliver of butter in each bowl and plenty of fleshly ground pepper.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Anita says

    Lamb is something we don’t do often because it’s hard to find around our area. We live amongst hog and cattle farmers. We like soups too and this soup looks and sounds delish!

  2. Kimi Harris says

    Thanks so much for the comments! I am glad that my blog has been helpful to you.
    I think that the lamb shoulder should do fine in the soup, it will not release as much gelatin into the broth, but it will make it more meaty. 🙂 You could (though it isn’t supposed to be “traditional”!) consider browning it in a bit of oil first, for more tender meat.

  3. Veronica says

    Yum! I waited a while to try this recipe, but I was really happy when I finally did. I used lamb stew meat that I got from a local farm, added carrots and left out the cabbage, (because I’m the only one that likes it in my house). Adding salt and pepper is important to the final flavor of the stew, so don’t skip that step! This stew is great with a little white wine and the Irish soda bread recipe from this site 🙂

  4. Jamie says

    We’re had this for dinner tonight. The only changes to the original recipe were to substitute ground lamb for the shank, and we left out the beans and white wine. I’ll definitely be using a shank next time for the extra depth of flavor and richness it will provide, but it’s still delicious! An added bonus of using ground lamb and omitting the beans was a quick cook time. 🙂

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