Lamb and barley soup

Rich and flavourful lamb and barley soup is the perfect comforting winter meal. Served with a glass of red wine, you can’t ask for better.

Lamb and barley soup

It’s officially winter. All the trees in my garden have lost their leaves, the mornings are dark and icy and our fireplace is working over time. My favourite time of the year. There’s so much I love about winter but the food has got to take first place. Comforting soups, stews and curries slowly cooking all day is my version of perfection.

When the wonderful people from La Motte sent me a whole bunch of their fantastic wines along with their cookbook, Cape winelands cuisine, I couldn’t wait to get cooking. This book is packed with fantastic recipes celebrating South African cuisine. The focus of the recipes is largely on the old Cape’s use of herbs, spices and cooking with wine. And you guys, these recipes are all absolutely drool-worthy. From traditional pickled fish to fantastic recipes using the variety of game available in our beautiful country, there’s something for every palate.

Cape winelands cuisine

I knew I wanted to make a soup and settled on the rich and comforting barley soup with lamb knuckles. The slow cooked lamb just falls off the bone and along with the mirepoix and mixture of herbs, the end result is intensely flavoursome and aromatic.

Lamb and barley soup

I served the soup with chunky slices of bread and La Motte’s fantastic 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. Now let me be honest, I am absolutely useless at wine pairing (and my knowledge of wine in general is pretty weak) but I can tell you that this wine was perfect with the soup. I can’t tell you about the notes or aromas of the wine, all I can say is that it was completely delicious and very easy to drink. Throw in a crackling fire and you have the ideal winter evening.

Lamb and barley soup
Lamb and barley soup

Lamb and barley soup

Rich and flavourful lamb and barley soup is the perfect comforting winter meal. Served with a glass of red wine, you can’t ask for better.
4.55 from 24 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Meat, Soup, Winter recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Author: Alida Ryder
Servings: 6


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 500 g lamb knuckle sliced
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 leek sliced
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fruit chutney
  • 8 cups lamb/vegetable stock
  • ½ cup marrow from beef bones optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • bouquet garni thyme, parsley, bay leaf, rosemary and fennel tied together
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Heat a large saucepan and add the olive oil. Brown the lamb knuckle, and then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Add the onions, leek, celery and carrots to the saucepan and sweat until soft (do not let it brown).
  • Return the lamb to the saucepan, along with the remaining ingredients (except the seasoning) and simmer for 1½-2 hours until the lamb is tender.
  • Remove and discard the bouquet garni and season to taste. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.


This recipe was originally printed in Cape Winelands Cuisine.

This post is sponsored by La Motte. Words, images and opinions are my own. 

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  1. Do not judge ingredients before making and tasting. I left out the Dill Weed and Cinnamon as my wife does not like either. BIG MISTAKE!
    I added chopped fresh Dill and a dusting of Cinnamon to the second bowl I ate and Wow. I also sprinkled a ground fresh Mexican cheese on top. Soup now #1 fantastic fine restaurant quality.
    Initially, the lemon and zest was too powerful and I only used 1 duck egg sized lemon with its zest, I don’t know the size of lemons in So. Africa but the must be smaller or have thinner zest than a California lemon.
    With respect to spices, I used 1 tsp Fennel Seeds broken, 2 Tbsp fresh chopped Rosemary, 3 cloves Garlic,and 6 0r 8 sprigs of Thyme leaves stripped from the stem. I also added 2 dried Bay leaves and 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce. Do not omit the Fish Sauce unless you add Anchovies (remember, you can’t taste the fish but it adds Umami flavoring to the mix.)
    Wonderful Soup. Never made a Lamb Soup in my life. I will however make this soup again. Thanks for posting. I’d give recipe a 10 star rating if I could.

  2. La Motte is such a beautiful estate, we always visit when we go down to the Cape. This soup looks so delicious, I’ll definitely try it.

  3. I made this soup over the weekend and it was absolutely delicious. La Motte is one of my favourite wine estates and I’ll definitely look out for this book as their food is always fantastic.