Venison Soup

4.67 from 6 votes
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Scottish venison soup recipe
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I’ve based this venison soup off the traditional Scotch broth, which is a simple lamb and barley soup with carrots, turnips and other wintry things.

Only I am using venison here instead of lamb. Venison is still widely eaten in the United Kingdom, and Scotland is home to one of the largest remaining herds of red deer (they’re like our elk) left in Europe. So it seemed appropriate.

My special ingredient? Nettles. Blanched and chopped, nettles — a wild vegetable adored by both Irish and Scots cooks — add a vivid spring green to the soup. If you can’t get nettles, use spinach or chard.

There is one vital key to my version of venison soup: Never let this soup boil. I mean, you can still eat the soup if you do, but you will wonder what all the fuss is about. If you keep the venison cooking below a simmer — about 170°F — this will break down the connective tissue of the meat while at the same time keeping the venison tender and pink. If the soup boils, the meat will tighten up and turn gray.

The recipe keeps well in the fridge for up to a week, although the barley will swell over time. It is best eaten the day after it is made.

Scottish venison soup recipe
4.67 from 6 votes

Venison Soup

If you cannot find venison, lamb is traditional. Beef, or any other red meat, will work just as well.
Course: Soup
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes


  • 2 pounds venison or lamb stew meat
  • 1 quart venison broth or beef broth
  • 2 quarts water
  • Salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 turnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 small carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 cup blanched and chopped nettles or spinach


  • Pour the water and broth into a large pot and add the venison chunks. Bring this to a bare simmer, just to bubbling. You will notice lots of scum collecting on the surface of the soup. Skim it as best you can. I let the venison gently simmer for 20 minutes, then fish out the venison pieces and put them in a bowl. I then pour the broth through a paper towel set in a sieve over another pot or large bowl. This strains out all the scum. If you skip this step your soup will be cloudy, but still perfectly edible. I just like clear soup.
  • Add salt to the broth, and return it and the venison to the heat -- only this time do not let it even simmer. Cover the pot and set it on low heat. You are aiming for about 160 to 175°F. Cook the meat this way until tender, which will take 2-3 hours for an old deer, or 90 minutes for lamb.
  • Add all the vegetables and the barley, cover and cook for another hour or so, or until the barley is tender.
  • Stir in the chopped nettles and add some black pepper, and just heat this through, about 5 minutes. Serve at once with a dark ale or red wine.


Calories: 261kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 358mg | Potassium: 978mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 6766IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Looked to the comments to see how this soup has turned out for others. Nothing said about anyone actually making the soup. Has anyone tried it?

  2. Pcplex: Yes, if you read the headnotes of the recipe you will see why I don’t brown the meat. This method makes the venison A LOT more tender. As for the veg, you can sweat them if you’d like.

  3. Leitch: Antelope should work just fine. I’ve often substituted one for the other in recipes. They do taste a little different, but not so much that one will ruin a dish designed for the other.

  4. Im Scottish and Native American and i must say im looking forward to trying this recipe. It looks amazing but I was wondering… I have about 4 lbs of wild antelope meat and I’m really not sure if it will work as well as deer meat. I know theyre the same family but I’m worried that the antelope will taste too gamey. I just really need to use it. Any tips or ideas?

  5. Dawna: Kale would be a fine substitute. Just chope it fine before it goes into the soup. And I am sure nettle can be cultivated. It’s a weed. 😉

    Erica: If you want to make this with ground venison, you will not really get the same texture, but if you make little venison meatballs – 1 lb venison, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, some herbs – and float them in the soup, it will be very, very good. Be sure to make the meatballs bite-sized, though.

  6. Our supply of venison is all ground…would it still be worth it?

    Probably not as tasty, but I have 70 lbs of ground venison and am looking for new and inventive ways to use it.

  7. Your soup looks wonderful and I am going to try making it with caribou, which I have plenty on hand. Do you think kale would make a good substitute for nettle? Can nettle be cultivated or is it only found in the wild?

  8. Not a drop of Scot or Irish in me, but I love any reason to celebrate and make food :o) I cook a lot of venison so I’m eager to try this recipe and I promise, no boiling.

  9. Cork: I am sure it would go great with bear. Um, not so sure about coyote. Eating dogs and cats is where I draw the line….

    Jonny: Truly wild venison is illegal to sell in the US because wild game “belongs” to the American people, not whomever owns the land. It is the opposite in Europe, so that’s why they can sell game there. That said, you can buy quality venison from places like D’Artagnan or Broken Arrow Ranch. I like the watercress idea, too!

    Christine: Nope, no uprising. The Troubles are behind us, thankfully. 😉

  10. Being Scots-Irish-English myself, and tending to feel more Scots than anything else, I found it refreshing to see you celebrating your Scots ancestry so close to St. Patrick’s Day. Do I detect an uprising? Lucky me to have a deer hunting son who will gift me with venison when asked. Great recipe, now saved for just such an occasion. And it’s green!

  11. so, here’s the thing (and maybe I’m preaching to the choir here) but why is it venison is so hard to find in the states? There are deer literally everywhere now that we’ve seen off almost all the apex predators, and yet the butcher will roll his eyes when I ask him if he can get me some. Seriously. He just sold me some veal brains, farm raised alligator and emu steaks, but not venison? Great tip about only letting the broth simmer, and love me some nettles. I’ve seen this made with water cress too, by my Great-Grandma Robertson once upon a time, but the two tend to grow together at this time of year along river banks or other damp areas in the spring. Great work, Hank!

  12. Hoot-man!

    If I wasn’t forced to be so stingy with my venison (only one deer this year), I’d be making more of this! Wonder how it’d be with bear…or coyote (dog tastes like mutton).

  13. Michael: That was a looong time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

    Ian: “Welsh Venison Centre?” Wow. Not sure what to make of that.

    Fishguy: After, of course!

  14. This recipe has come at the perfect time as I am visiting the Welsh Venison centre tomorrow. I will be making this very soon.

  15. Well, I cling proudly to my Irish heritage. !00% Irish. Second generation. But this soup looks dang good so I must give it a try. And I sit in awe of someone who could down 18 pints of the best beer in the world in one sitting. I might have pulled that off in my younger days, but today I could only do if a “sitting” were defined as an appropriate number of days. Thanks for sharing the recipe.