A new slow cooker favourite

Have you ever played that game with your kids where you say a word and then they say the next word that pops into their little minds? It’s good for a laugh on a long car trip. Astonishing how often a word can be followed on by the word ‘fart’ (unless you have lovely daughters, whose vocabularies are possibly a little larger).

It makes you realise how many words really do belong together. I’ll play it with myself to demonstrate.

“Bert?” “Ernie”.
“Posh?” “Becks”.
“War?” “Peace”.
“Kylie?” “Botox”, “Jason”.

Likewise, there’s a long list of flavours that just belong together.

“Bacon?” “Eggs”.
“Macaroni?” “Cheese”.
“Fish?” “Chips”.

During the winter you could come over and I could offer you a warming bowl of lamb soup, but really it sounds pretty dull, doesn’t it? Lamb & barley soup however is a classic food combination that gets people seriously excited and for good reason. It’s fan-tas-ma-gorically good, especially when combined with a heap of vegies and chucked into the slow cooker for 8 hours. This recipe is one of those golden moments of family food since it’s easy to make (no browning anything, just chuck it all in), envelops your house in a day-long saliva-inducing fragrance and results in a dinner that requires diddly-squat effort throughout the afternoon.

Even better, this pulps up beautifully into baby food and toddlers can have this as more of a stew with some of the liquid drained off.

Really it’s one of those blissful kitchen moments. Enjoy.

lamb and barley slow cooker soup

I promise your family will devour this with glee!

Slow cooker lamb & barley soup

I would urge you to make this according to the recipe without leaving anything out. All the ingredients meld to make a truly fantastic winter dish.

1 onion, finely chopped
1 fennel, finely chopped (please don’t leave this out – it is the KEY ingredient – if you truly think you hate it, then just use half)
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1 cup peeled, diced sweet potato
2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed (I give them a good thump with the side of my knife)
1 litre salt-reduced beef stock
400g can crushed tomatoes
1 fresh rosemary spring
1 fresh bay leaf (invest in a bay tree in a pot – hugely handy & the leaves are MUCH tastier than dried)
1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed, drained
2 lamb shanks

Put all the vegies into the cooker bowl. Toss to mix them thoroughly. Pour over the stock & tomatoes. Add in the herbs and barley. Push in the shanks.

Cover and set to low for 8 hours.

Just before serving, remove the shanks to a bowl, use forks to shred the meat. Discard the bones and mix the meat back through the soup. Discard the bay leaf.

Serve with a smattering of parsley & crusty bread.

Serves 2 adults & 3 kids


If you love slow cooking, you’ll love my latest e-book!

34 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jocelyn said,

    What would you use instead of barley for a gluten free option? Rice? Leave it out?

    • 2

      wendyblume said,

      Jocelyn you could add brown rice with three joys to go or quinoa with an hour to go. I’ve not tested either – I’m guessing – so if you try this, make sure you report back with results.

  2. 3

    This sounds delish. I love lamb and barley soup and can’t wait to try this version.

  3. 5

    Penny said,

    Looks great. Thanks. Will try this on the weekend!

  4. 7

    Alex said,

    Mmmmmmmm sounds delish going to but the ingredients tomorrow. Love lamb shanks. Perfect for the chilly evenings we’ve been having and also great for leftovers.

  5. 9

    Emily said,

    Could you use Osso bucco steaks (I have them in the freezer) or is lamb best?

    • 10

      wendyblume said,

      Hi Emily – I think they’d be good, but I’ve not tried it so I can’t say for sure. If you give it a go, I always appreciate feedback – it helps all the other readers!


  6. 11

    Kat Pescud said,

    Yum! I make (not my own recipe) a chicken, veg and barley soup that’s delish. Love the barley in it, such a good warm winter filler so will definetly be making this one. Thanks 🙂

  7. 13

    Vanessa said,

    Can’t wait to try this. I love fennel and am always looking for new ways to try it.

    • 14

      wendyblume said,

      I hear ya fennel sister – one of my favourite things. At the moment I love it chopped finely in salads with carrot, avocado & mushrooms – so yummy!

  8. 15

    Jen said,

    Thanks for sharing such a delicious recipe. Made it yesterday and it was easy and fabulous. The kids ate it too (with minimal prompting). Thanks 🙂

  9. 17

    Lisa said,

    Just made up a double batch but it won’t all fit in my slow cooker! What are your thoughts on bringing the surplus to a boil on the stovetop then putting it in the oven at 130 degrees for 6 hours? Thanks for the recipe, looking forward to trying it!

  10. 19

    jotaylor13 said,

    This is awesome! My kiddies are quite young so I put in 1.5x the barley to reduce the liquid content, worked brilliantly!

    If you had a large enough slow cooker, could you double the recipe?

    • 20

      wendyblume said,

      yes, although someone tried it today and their cooker wasn’t big enough so they ended up finished a batch on the stove top. Maybe to a 1.5 quantity.

  11. 21

    Lisa said,

    I made this for dinner tonight and, oh wow!!! I think I will be making this regularly – delicious!!!

  12. 22

    Lisa said,

    I made this soup a fortnight ago – it was the first time my fussiest boy ate everything and asked for more! The whole family loved it! I’m making it again right now!

  13. 23

    Vanessa said,

    I made this again today. It’s become my lunch staple – my freezer at work is ready to be re-stocked with another batch!

  14. 24

    Tas said,

    Amazing! I don’t love fennel so only used half. Will use the whole lot next time. This is definitely a recipe that I will be using again. Thank you 🙂

  15. 26

    Calinda said,

    Omg that was soooo tasty and easy to make thank you for posting! Just perfect for the cold winters night we are having tonight!

  16. 28

    Nikki G said,

    Yay, I was looking for a yummy lamb soup which I can do in the slow cooker.

    I just have two questions:

    1. Is this soup freezeable?

    2. How thick does this soup turn out at the end or as leftover. I just ask because I hate soup that turns into a stew like continestency.

    Thank you for a great recipe 🙂

  17. 30

    Megan said,

    I’m making this tonight but just realised I have no beef stock! I’ve got veg or chicken stock on hand. Do you think it’ll be as nice using one of these?

  18. 32

    Annette B said,

    Today I’ve got a 3kg lamb leg in the slow cooker with 1kg of spuds under it, yes I am amazed it all fit. I will have lots of leftover meat so I’m very happy to have found this recipe for soup, which I will make on Saturday after a full day of kids’ sport. Thanks and I’ll let you know how it went down. Annette

  19. 33

    Jennifer said,

    My entire family LOVE this recipe and I have forgotten to put it in the slow cooker this morning. Have you ever made this recipe in a pressure cooker and if so, how long did you cook it under pressure for? Thanks in advance.

  20. 34

    Kirsten said,

    Best lamb veggie soup I’ve ever had. I normally find veggie soup so bland but this one was bursting with flavour. Definitely add the fennel people!

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