Eat Your Turnips! Try Kate Percy's Welsh Cawl recipe...

Eat Your Turnips! Try Kate Percy's Welsh Cawl recipe...

We are trying to increase the amount of plant-based foods we eat at the  moment and although this Welsh Cawl recipe contains meat, it's also absolutely packed with a lovely rainbow array of vegetables, plus nutritious pearl barley. After spending £15 in our local veg shop for a few tomatoes and aubergines I got thinking about how to save money by buying cheaper, locally-produced vegetables. Welsh Cawl is a traditional lamb stew that's popular in Wales and beyond. Well, we're Bristol, so almost Wales! Made with lamb and hearty vegetables - turnips, carrots leeks, swede, potatoes and onions - in a flavourful broth, this dish is perfect for cold winter nights or any time you're craving a warm and satisfying meal. Budget food that actually tastes great, has minimal food miles, and does you good too! 

With the shortage of salad vegetables and imported produce, it's a no-brainer to turn to classic UK-produced vegetable ingredients like the turnips, carrots, potatoes and leeks used in this Welsh Cawl recipe.

And did you know? Turnips are totally back on the agenda; they even had a whole feature about them on BBC Radio 4! 

Turnips nutrition fact: the humble turnip is packed with vitamin C as well as anthocyanins which can reduce inflammation and protect you from conditions like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Let me tell you a story about how I discovered this Welsh treat...

We spent one Spring Bank Holiday weekend camping on a totally idyllic farm on the Pembrokeshire coast. I was training for the 15mile Brecon Beacons 3 Peaks fell run at the time and had wonderful and ambitious plans of running up and down the coast path. Unfortunately the weather was so wild, windy and rainy the thought of coming back for a cold wash at the sink in the middle of the field (no hot showers available at this campsite, unfortunately) was enough to deter me. So we sheltered in the local pub instead! Mark was happy with the local brew and we were both blown away by the most wonderful hearty stew of tender lamb and root vegetables they served; a traditional Welsh Cawl.

I usually regret chickening out of going for a run, but on this occasion, I definitely made the right choice:)

So this is my version of Welsh Cawl. I've added pearl barley which may not be particularly authentic, but it bulks it out even more and adds fibre, vitamins and minerals to an already healthy, low-G.I. meal. Whether you're looking to try a new dish or simply want to explore the rich culinary traditions of Wales, this recipe is a must-try. The kids love it too.

So grab your apron and get ready to cook up a bowl of delicious Welsh Cawl today!

Welsh Cawl

How to make Welsh Cawl

Prep 10 mins | Cook 2 hours | Serves 6


  • 900g stewing lamb – best end of neck cutlets,  cut into large chunks
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled, whole
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 1 onion, peeled, whole
  • 4 waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 1 small swede, peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 2 turnips, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 3 leeks, peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 1 lamb stock cube
  • bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, or pack of mixed fresh herbs (e.g. fresh
  • thyme, oregano, marjoram, parsley)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Remove any excess fat from the lamb and then brown in batches in a couple of tbsp of oil in a large heavy-based casserole dish.
  2. Add 1½ litres of water, the onion, peppercorns, bay, thyme, the parsnip and the pearl barley.
  3. Bring to the boil and then simmer, uncovered, for about 1¼ hours.
  4. Remove the scum from the surface every now and then. Leave to cool so that you can spoon off the fat, which will form on the surface.
  5. Remove the whole onion and the parsnip (see step 6).
  6. Mash the parsnip with a fork to thicken the sauce later.
  7. Add the potatoes, swede and carrots to the stew and cook, covered, for a further 35 minutes.
  8. Add the leeks, the mashed parsnip and the stock cube and plenty of pepper and cook for another 10 minutes.
  9. Add the parsley or mixed herbs, taste for seasoning and serve in warmed bowls with crusty bread.

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