Happy summer. Spring lamb is at its best right now, in the middle of this unseasonably pleasant summer.
I started off with some sandwiches. The classic lamb and bread duo also involves a dollop of creme fraiche, chopped tarragon, mint sauce, and spring onion. I didn’t have creme fraiche or tarragon and so mixed a squeeze of lemon juice with some natural yoghurt, a sprinkle of chives, and some mint sauce. Delicious leftover lamb sandwich.
Not a huge amount of meat left on that bone. But enough. Soup or a stew was the only way to go – but how to keep it light? Lamb and barley was too heavy, while Moroccan or spicy soup didn’t quite appeal to me. So I tried this combination, keeping the emphasis on broth rather than soup. It’s perfect for a rainy summer day, after a walk, or on a pleasant summer evening.
To turn it into a more substantial meal, serve with baby boiled potatoes in the soup instead of bread on the side. Or both.
- Half leg of lamb bone, with some meat attached
- Mirepoix: 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 leek, 1 stick of celery
- 1 half teaspoon of roasted fennel seeds
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme or a half teaspoon dried thyme
- Fresh mint
- Salt and pepper
- First make the stock. Cover the lamb bone with water in a large pot, along with a stick of celery, a carrot, and a peeled onion chopped in two.
- Bring to the boil with the lid partially on, immediately reduce to a simmer, and cook on a low heat for 2-3 hours – or, if you have time, forever.* You need to keep the meat, which by now will have fallen from the bones.
- Meanwhile, dry fry the fennel seeds until until they begin to turn brown, about two minutes. If using dried thyme, you should also add this to the pan, for about a minute.
- Sweat the leek and onion in butter or oil for three minutes. Add the celery and carrots and sweat for a further five minutes, with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
- Add the stock to the mixture, tossing in the fennel and thyme mix. Add some salt. Simmer for about half an hour.
- Pour into the bowls. Add a gentle squeeze – less than half a teaspoon – of lemon juice and top with fresh chopped mint. Season to taste.
*For a pure stock, discard the bones and vegetables by sieving the mixture; it will keep in the freezer for two months.