One-Pot Wonders

Welsh Cawl

March 17, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by Photographer: Ty Mecham Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Sometimes called lamb and root vegetable soup, "cawl Cymreig" as it’s known in Welsh, is the traditional dish served on St. David’s Day, March 1, a holiday celebrating the patron saint of the tiny country. The day is celebrated with parades, special programs, and placing a daffodil and a leek (the national flower and vegetable, respectively) in your cap. St. Patrick’s Day (and its ubiquitous corned beef and cabbage) usually get major food-attention in March, but it is high time for St. David—and cawl—to be in the spotlight. There are probably as many variations of this dish as there are cooks who make it: Some families will use a small rutabaga, turnip, or shredded green cabbage instead of parsnips. It typically involves celeriac, which is at the end of the season now; celery, though not the same vegetable, but slightly similar in flavor, often is substituted. If your grocery store or butcher doesn’t have boneless lamb shoulder or stew meat (or if you don’t like lamb!) substitute with 3 to 4 pounds boneless beef flank steak.

Some slice the meat and eat it and the soup separately; others ladle the sliced lamb in soup bowls with the soup and enjoy it as a stew. Cawl traditionally is served with hearty bread and sometimes crumbly Caerphilly cheese. When there are leftovers, they are great the following day. —Claudia M. Caruana

What You'll Need
  • Stock
  • 2-3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder (in one large piece) or lamb stew meat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large or 3 small shallots, diced
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons (heaped) diced soup greens (or 1 small carrot, halved, and ½ bunch parsley)
  • Stew
  • 3 large peeled Russet potatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 3 large carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 small celeriac bulb, peeled and diced, or 4 celery stalks, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large or 3 small leeks (white and green parts), washed well and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • Fresh parsley, roughly chopped, for serving
  • Hearty bread, for serving
  • Caerphilly (or English cheddar) cheese, for serving
  1. Season the meat all over with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large stockpot, sauté the onion and shallots in the olive oil over medium-high heat until they start to brown, 5-10 minutes. Add the meat and sauté for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Add stock and water, plus the diced soup greens (or carrot and parsley).
  4. Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce heat and simmer for approximately one hour, or until the meat is tender and cooked through (registers at least 145ºF with an instant-read thermometer). Remove the pot from the heat (removing and discarding carrot and celery). Transfer to a lidded container, or cover the pot and refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight.
  5. Use a spoon to skim the solidified fat from the surface of the stock and discard. Place the meat and stock in a large stock pot (or, if you chilled in the stock pot, simply place it back on the stove) with the peeled and sliced potatoes, carrots, parsnip, and celeriac.
  6. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the leeks, then continue to simmer for another 15 to 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. If the stock seems to be drying out, add additional water.
  7. Stir in the leeks during the last 15 minutes of simmering.
  8. If using boneless lamb shoulder (or flank steak), remove the meat from the pot and slice to desired thickness.
  9. Ladle the stew into bowls along with the sliced meat; if using stew meat, simply ladle into bowls. Top with parsley and serve with bread and cheese if desired.

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1 Review

Tonopah March 6, 2022
First, there’s a mistake in the recipe. It doesn’t say to use celery in the broth, but then it says to “remove celery”. No biggie. Second, I wasn’t sure about the two step process. I felt bad removing all that good stuff from the stock but it was absolutely worth it. Delicious deep flavor and the lamb was so tender. I served it with a good English Cheddar and made Bara Brith (Welsh Tea Bread) to go with it. I will make this again and again.