Slow Cooker Scotch Broth

Slow Cooker Scotch Broth

I’ve got to be honest – this isn’t really a slow cooker Scotch broth recipe, because it has a distinctly Northumbrian twist. This all started when one of my old school pals posted on Facebook about making Scotch, or Northumbrian, Broth – a soup that one of my grandmothers used to make a huge batch of every New Year in her pressure cooker. Her recipe for Scotch Broth was more like the traditional Scottish soup than mine, made with mutton, root vegetables and pearl barley.

I had some ham left from making slow cooker ham, and stumbled upon some recipes for Pease Pudding – a classic where I come from. “Eureka! I’d make some sort of ham and pease pudding soup!” I decided. Here it is – and oddly enough this Geordie broth recipe does taste very much like the version my grandmother made (minus the barley). 

So I use ham in my Scotch Broth soup recipe. Others have been known to make it as a chicken broth; sometimes you’ll find a Scotch Broth recipe with beef. For me, the best Northumbrian or Scotch Broth recipe contains ham. Feel free to disagree, and/or experiment! Some also know it as Highland Broth – apt as some of my Mackay clan ancestors apparently hailed from that area.

I’m christening it ‘slow cooker Scotch broth’ as that’s how the whole family always referred to it. The proper title should probably be slow cooker Northumbrian broth, however. You can use either the stock left over from slow cooking a ham joint here, as I do, or bought stock. (Knorr make ham stock cubes, or you could use chicken or vegetable ones.)

Serve this Scotch broth soup with bread, and it makes a very filling main meal. Children love its salty, satisfying flavour too that’s fairly plain, yet rich and far from bland. It’s great for a hangover too – hence the big batches whipped up in the North East before New Year’s Eve. Some people add chopped parsley garnish – it’s an optional extra.

You don’t have to make this broth in a slow cooker. It can also be made in a large saucepan or stock pot. Simply cook on a low heat for an hour or more, until the root vegetables are nice and soft and the flavours are well combined. I’d use this same Scotch broth recipe, slow cooker or not.

Serves 4 – 8, depending on portion size

Slow cooker Scotch broth ingredients

  • Butter, a knob
  • Onion, 1, diced
  • Carrot, 1, diced
  • Potato, 1 large, diced
  • Vegetable or ham stock, 1 litre
  • Yellow split peas, 250g
  • Ham, cooked & diced or shredded, about 100g
  • Bay leaf, fresh or dried, 1
  • Thyme, fresh, 1 stem; or dried, 1 tsp
  • Black pepper, a twist, to taste

Equipment

How to make slow cooker Scotch broth

  • Melt the butter in your slow cooker pot, if it can be used on the hob (mine can). Otherwise use a saucepan. Add the onion and carrot and cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the onion starts to brown. Put in the potato, and stir.
  • Add the onion, carrot and potato to your slow cooker pot – or transfer the pan’s ingredients to the slow cooker pot. Stir in the stock and yellow split peas, then the ham, herbs and pepper. Mix again.
  • Slow cook the soup on low for around 6 hours.

Serve with crusty bread and butter.

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There’s more about the North East I grew up in this post on Newcastle in the 80s and 90s

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