How to make this traditional meal

Welsh cawl

Cawl is the perfect antidote to winters weather, an earthy meal of lamb and seasonal vegetables.

One of the best places to eat cawl in Pembrokeshire was Loulou’s Café in Newport.

Owner/chef Louise Cook made cawl regularly in the winter and when word got out that it’s on her menu people came from far and wide to enjoy a bowl. Lou has since hung up her apron strings but the great news is that you can still taste her delicious cawl at home as she shares her recipe secrets.

Preseli Lamb

The secret to Loulou’s cawl is in the stock and of course Preseli lamb but if you can’t get Preseli lamb, just ask your butcher to dice a shoulder of your local lamb, giving you the meat, bone and additional lamb bones for the stock.

Seasonal Vegetables

Local seasonal vegetables of onions, swede, potatoes, carrots and leeks are key. Loulou used vegetables from two local organic growers who delivered to the cafe and had an organic veg stall at Newport Farmers Market.

So good is Loulou’s cawl that we have persuaded her to share the recipe, so we call all enjoy a little bit of Pembrokeshire more often.

Welsh Lamb Cawl Recipe

This recipe makes a big pot of cawl, about 15 bowls, ideal for a big family gathering. Any leftovers will freeze well.

Day 1: The Stock

The stock is made a day in advance, ready for the soup the following morning.

Heat oven to 220c / Gas Mark 7

  • Bones from one shoulder of lamb (more if the butcher has more)
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 4 bay leaves
  • bunch of parsley (stalks included)
  • fresh thyme, mint or sage if you have them
  • 2 large sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 flat tbsp salt


  1. Wash and roughly chop vegetables (you can leave skin and ends on)
  2. Place vegetables and bones into a roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes
  3. Transfer to a large pan, cover with water and add herbs and seasoning
  4. Bring to boil and then turn down to a simmer for about 4-hours, so the liquid has reduced by a 1/3rd
  5. Leave to cool for 30 minutes before straining out the liquid
  6. Leave the liquid to cool completely, so that you can easily remove the fat from the surface. Refrigerate overnight


Day 2: The Cawl

  • Diced shoulder of lamb
  • sunflower oil
  • 4 medium onions, diced
  • 1 medium swede, diced
  • 4 medium potatoes, diced
  • 8 medium carrots, diced
  • 4 leeks, large pieces
  • 2 tsp mint sauce (or a handful of fresh, finely chopped mint)
  • a handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • lamb stock, to cover


  1. Fry onions in a little sunflower oil until golden brown
  2. Add stock and bring to boil
  3. Brown lamb in a separate frying pan, on high heat, using a little more sunflower oil (Brown in small batches and make sure lamb browned and sealed on all sides)
  4. Transfer browned lamb to the hot stock and simmer for 30-minutes before adding the swede
  5. Wait 10-minutes and then add the carrots
  6. Wait 5-minutes then add the potatoes
  7. When everything is almost cooked add the leeks, mint sauce, parsley and seasoning
  8. Simmer for a further 5-minutes until leeks are tender. If you need more liquid top up with a ready-made stock, either lamb or vegetable

Serve in a big bowl with a chunk of bread and cheese on the side. Enjoy!

The great food traditions of Wales stretch back centuries and often reflect an alchemic talent for cooking up something memorable from meagre ingredients.

BBC Good Food magazine