Cawl can be made throughout the year, just adjust the vegetables according to the season. Chopped runner bean, broad beans and peas are wonderful during early summer, add a little chopped mint at the end of cooking. During cooking the stock will reduce somewhat, so top up with more water, or some wine. You may also wish to add pulses such as lentils, pearl barley is also good during the winter months. Cawl was traditionally eaten during the winter months in the south-west of Wales. Today the word is often used to refer to a dish containing lamb and leeks, due to their association with Welsh culture, but historically it was made with either salted bacon or beef, along with potatoes, carrots and other seasonal vegetables.With recipes dating back to the 14th century, cawl is widely considered to be the national dish of Wales. The meat in the dish was normally cut into medium-sized pieces and boiled with the vegetables in water. The stock was often with either oatmeal or flour, and was then served, without the meat or vegetables, as a first course.The vegetables and slices of the meat would then be served as a second course. Cawl is generally made with lamb nowadays and served as a single course is today the most popular way to serve the meal.


To serve six
  • 6 x small Welsh lamb shanks
  • 1.2L/2pts water
  • 225g/8oz potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 225g/8oz swede, peeled and diced
  • 225g/8oz onion, peeled and chopped
  • 225g/8oz carrots, peeled and diced
  • 225g/8oz leek, cleaned and sliced thin
  • A bunch of herbs: Bay, thyme, rosemary and parsley
  • ½ a small Savoy cabbage
  • 2tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan, season the lamb shanks add to the pan together with the onion and brown all over (you may have to do this in batches if your pan is not large enough.
  2. Pour over the water and add the bunch of herbs.
  3. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  4. Cover and cook for 40 minutes.
  5. Add all the vegetables except for the cabbage, bring up to the boil again, reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 40 minutes.
  6. Shred the cabbage and add to the cawl, cook for about 5 minutes, then serve.