Vegan slow cooker Scotch broth stew

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Scotch broth is a traditionally hearty, filling soup principally comprised of barley, stewing or braising cuts of meat, root vegetables, and dried pulses. I'm not qualified to venture a guess as to how much the meatiness is essential. Take it out, is it still Scotch broth? Or are we left with a chunky vegetable barley soup? I'm not sure it matters. To me, back when I did eat meat and had the occasional bowl of Scotch broth, the part I savored most was the satisfying, flavourful warmth of it. I especially loved the smooth and almost melting textures of the root vegetables. So until someone informs me that it's some kind of blasphemy to call a vegan dish "Scotch broth", that's what I'm going with. 

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Thanksgiving is just weeks away, and this kind of hands-off, hearty soup is the perfect comfort food to give a moment's pause to think about the many things, even in our broken tumultuous times, to be thankful for. Barley lends such a creamy richness to any dish without the cream, especially when prepared in the slow cooker. Speaking of which, the cooking method may deservedly be up there among the best blessings of the busy season, at least when it comes to dinnertime. 

Call it Scotch broth or not, this simple seasonal soup--or whatever variation works for you--should stand a trial chance at becoming a regular as we come into the winter. Meatless, but packed with meaty, nutrient-rich vegetables and chewy grains. And who can help but admire the way the crockpot opens its arms and welcomes whatever ingredients you hastily toss its way, then simmers away all day and fills your house with inviting aromas to come home to? Best of all, the hands-off cooking time frees you up to attend to other things, even if only for an hour. This week, "other things" meant more time crafting with my fluffy-haired little turkey. A perfect combo I'll take any day. 

Vegan slow cooker scotch broth stew

  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup split peas, rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 large turnip, diced
  • 1 rutabaga, diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, sliced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley, or to taste
  1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low 8 hours.