There is something lovely about lamb shanks and barley. And barley and mushrooms. And mushrooms and lamb shanks. So here they are all combined in a delicious and comforting winter soup. Slow-cooking whole lamb shanks results in tender meat that will easily fall off the bone, and elevates this soup to a rich and hearty meal.






Skill level

Average: 4.5 (2 votes)


  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil
  • 1 kg lamb shanks
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 350 g field or Swiss brown mushrooms, roughly torn
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 4 garlic cloves, bruised
  • 200 g (1 cup) pearl barley, rinsed, drained
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley and juice of ½ lemon, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large casserole dish over medium heat, add shanks and cook for 6 minutes or until browned on each side.

Add onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until mushrooms and onions start to brown. Add carrots, celery, paprika, bay leaves, thyme and garlic and cook for a further 10 minutes or until carrots, celery and garlic are softened and lightly coloured.

Add 2.5 litres of water and barley. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1½ hours or until barley is very soft and creamy; if the soup becomes too thick, add a little more water.

Meanwhile, when shanks are tender and meat is falling off the bone, remove from soup. When cool enough to handle, pull meat from the bones and shred. If the soup is very fatty, you may want to skim some of the lamb fat off the surface.

Add shredded lamb back to soup, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes to heat through. Scatter with chopped parsley and drizzle over lemon juice, to serve.


Photography by Alan Benson. Food preparation by Asher Gilding. Food styling by Michelle Crawford.


As seen in Feast magazine, August 2014, Issue 34. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.