Growing up on a sheep farm, lamb or mutton for dinner was a fairly common occurrence in our house. Any left-over scraps of meat from a roast were always put to good use in some way or another, and this soup was a firm favourite of mine. My freezer has recently been endowed with a generous supply of mutton in various different cuts, including some bones which I intended to make stock with. I also had a piece of breast (the upper end of the belly/ribs next to the shoulder) which was destined to be braised.
This is an awesome soup, I adore the combination of rich mutton meatiness and spicy curry. It’s a proper hearty winter warmer of a dish, and pretty much a meal in itself as it is so thick and substantial. I made this soup with meat from the braised breast and stock that I made from the mutton bones. You could instead use leftover meat from a mutton or lamb roast, along with chicken stock from powder if you don’t want to make stock from scratch. The mutton could also be substituted quite satisfactorily with chicken; get some chicken thighs, season and toss in olive oil and roast on gas mark 7 for about 30 minutes. Then just pick off the meat and substitute into the recipe below accordingly. I used braised breast, but you could just as well use another cut such as scruffy chops, belly or neck chops. If you do braise some meat, you could use the braising liquor instead of making stock, although it will taste quite strongly of wine (if you use my recipe below) which you may not want in the soup. I believe the rich mellow flavour obtained from the slowly cooked stock is preferable in this case.
get a load of mutton bones (enough to pack tightly into a fairly large pot) and lightly roast in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop 1 large carrot, 1 leek, 1 stick of celery and 1 onion into large chunks and fry in oil over a high heat until lightly browned. Add the mutton bones, along with 1 large clove of garlic, 1 bay leaf and a sprig of rosemary. Add a large pinch of salt, then pour in cold water to just cover. Bring to the boil, skimming any froth that rises to the surface, then turn it down to just below boiling point and gently cook for at least 8 hours. Taste the stock; if it lacks flavour reduce it by boiling vigorously. Leave to cool slightly, then skim off and save the fat from the surface.
Place your chosen cut of meat in a roasting tray on top of a bed of roughly chopped vegetables (carrot, onion, celery, leek, garlic). Season the meat with salt and pepper. Pour over a 50-50 mixture of red or white wine and water so it reaches half-way up the side of the meat. Place on the hob, bring to the boil and simmer gently for a few minutes to boil off the alcohol. Tightly cover with foil and place in the oven on gas mark 1 for about 4 hours, or until the meat is falling apart and tender (but not so overcooked that the flavour has all been lost to the liquid). Remove from the oven, and leave to partially cool. While it is still warm, pick all the meat away from the bones and fat and set aside. The braising liquor is full of flavour; skim the fat, reduce if need be and save.
Mutton Mulligatawny Soup
Cut 150g of streaky bacon (preferably home-cured) into thin lardons and fry in a little oil in a large pot until just starting to colour. Dice 1 large onion and 2 sticks of celery, and finely chop 3 large cloves of garlic. Add these to the pot with the bacon, along with about 1/2 teaspoon of fat skimmed from the mutton stock. Turn the heat right down and gently sweat the vegetables down for 10-15 minutes until they are nice and soft. Add to the pot 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 5mm dice, 300g of flaky braised mutton cut into small pieces, 1 1/2 teaspoons of madras curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon of paprika and 1 litre of stock (ideally quality home-made mutton stock). Taste and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to just below simmering point and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add a few drops of Worcester sauce and 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar. Peel and dice 300g of potatoes into 1cm dice and add to the soup. Cook until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart. Adjust the seasoning and serve with some roughly chopped parsley scattered over.