There are several different kinds of mutton soup, including Pakistani, Indian, and American versions. Each type features different spices, flavors, and slightly different cooking techniques. There are also variations on each of these traditional recipes because mutton is a relatively versatile meat. The word 'mutton' usually refers to meat taken from a fully-grown sheep. These cuts are usually meatier and tougher than lamb, meaning slow braising in a soup pot is an ideal way to cook it. Slow cooking over low heat usually yields a soup full of flavorful, tender, succulent meat.
Pakistani mutton soup generally starts with either mutton or lamb chops. Cooks inexperienced at preparing mutton may want to try lamb chops the first time they make this recipe because they usually soften faster. The chops are generally seasoned with black peppercorns, seared in heated oil, and placed in a large stew pot. The next part of this mutton soup usually involves adding water and spices to the stew pot. Traditional spices include rosemary, parsley, bay leaves, and thyme. All of these ingredients should be allowed to simmer together over low heat for about 15 minutes.
The cook may then add potatoes, cabbage, leeks, pearl onions, celery, and peas to this Pakistani mutton soup. All of these vegetables may be used, or the cook may just use the vegetables he or she likes best. The soup should then generally simmer until all of the veggies are fork tender and the mutton or lamb is cooked through. The meat should be tender enough to pull apart with a fork, and the cook should remove the bones and bay leaves before serving.
The Indian version of mutton soup contains very different flavors. The mutton or lamb chops are still seared in vegetable oil, but usually go into a pressure cooker after searing, along with turmeric, curry, cinnamon, garlic, and ginger. Onions and chickpeas may also be added to this recipe, if desired. Water, chicken broth, or vegetable stock is then added to the cooker and everything usually cooks for about 30 to 60 minutes after the steam escapes. Many Indian cooks like to serve this mutton soup over spicy rice, with papadum bread or over couscous.
The American version of mutton soup is possibly the most variable. Many American cooks have access to all kinds of ingredients and prefer many different kinds of flavors. The one consistent factor in this version of the dish is that the mutton or lamb must be cooked slowly. American mutton soup is very often placed in a slow cooker. The mutton meat is usually cubed and added to the cooker with chopped onions and some kind of broth. Dozens of different vegetables may be added, such as garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, chili peppers, carrots, parsnips, or celeriac root. This is then usually cooked on low heat for about eight hours, until the meat is very tender.