Cawl Cymreig

A traditional Welsh soup is usually referred to as cawl Cymreig. Cabarrus Health Alliance photo

I love traditional recipes and where they originated from. With having been married to a Welsh lass for twenty years and living in Wales for 10 of those years.

Having all three of my boys born in Wales, I love to make traditional Welsh dishes. Bara Brith is made once a month at home (served with a hot cuppa tea), along with the occasional Welsh cake. Leek and potato soup is a must in the winter months. One dish that always gets made in March is cawl, usually around St. David’s Day (1st March) as my boys love lamb.

In modern Welsh language, the word cawl is used to refer to any soup or broth. In English language, it is used to refer to a traditional Welsh soup, usually referred to as cawl Cymreig in Welsh. Historically, ingredients tended to vary, but the most common recipes are with lamb, leeks, potatoes, swedes, carrots and other seasonal vegetables. Cawl is recognized as a national dish of Wales. The dish was traditionally cooked in an iron pot or cauldron over a wood or coal fire, made the day before then reheated, and again traditionally eaten with wooden spoons, not a metal spoon.

Hope you enjoy this traditional Welsh favorite as much as we do in the DAVIES clan.

Serves 4


2lb neck of lamb (on the bone, preferably Welsh) or 1lb of shoulder of lamb, cut into medium size cubes

6 cups low in sodium lamb stock or chicken stock

2 cups fingerling potatoes, washed and cut into quarters

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 cup carrots or one cup mixed baby carrots, washed and roughly chopped

1 cup swede, peeled and roughly chopped

*1 large leek, washed and sliced (see side note)

How to cook:

Place the lamb into a large saucepan and pour over the stock.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Skim the surface of any impurities and discard.

Add the potatoes, onion, carrot and swede and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender (add the leeks the last 15 minutes of cooking).

Remove from the heat and ladle into warm soup bowls and serve with lots of black pepper, a wedge of mature Caerphilly cheese and a slice of good artisan bread and butter (Welsh if you can get some) for dunking.

*For even tastier results, let it chill overnight. In which case, simply stir in the raw leeks, cover, and pop into the fridge (it will keep for up to 3 days). When you’re ready to serve, gently simmer the cawl until warm through, then taste and season if needed and serve.

Chef Mark Allison

Mark Allison, Executive is Chef of Culinary Innovation at the Cabarrus Health Alliance. Check out for more recipes and a list of upcoming cooking classes with Chef Allison.

Mark Allison is Executive Chef of Culinary Innovation at the Cabarrus Health Alliance. Check out for a list of upcoming cooking classes with Chef Allison.  Want more recipes?  Visit

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