Turkish Lamb Shank Soup Recipe

Nothing beats a piping hot bowl of soup on a cold winter day! This Turkish lamb shank soup recipe delivers incredibly rich, meaty flavor that will warm you from the inside out. With chunky lamb shanks simmered in a savory tomato broth with seasonal veggies, it’s the ultimate comfort food that’s perfect for holiday gatherings and cozy meals at home.

In this step-by-step guide, I’ll share my tips for creating this flavorful and nourishing soup. You’ll learn how to perfectly braise succulent lamb shanks and build an aromatic, well-balanced broth. I’ll also give suggestions for customizable add-ins so you can make this traditional recipe your own.

What is Turkish Lamb Shank Soup?

This soup, known as Kelle Paça or Kelle Paca in Turkey, has its origins in Istanbul street food culture. The name translates to “head and leg,” as it was traditionally made by simmering sheep’s heads and trotters to extract collagen and create a rich, gelatinous broth. Though many modern versions use meatier lamb shanks instead.

This hearty soup is beloved for being intensely comforting, yet light enough not to weigh you down. Flavored with warming spices like paprika and simmered with vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes, it’s the ultimate one-pot winter meal.

Making it at home allows you to use quality ingredients and customize it just how you like. The delicious aroma as it bubbles away will fill your whole house.

Benefits of This Soothing Soup

There are so many great reasons to make this Turkish lamb shank soup:

  • Warming and nourishing: With hearty lamb and veggies simmered in broth, it provides deep nourishment that your body craves during cold weather. The natural collagen from the shanks is particularly soothing.
  • Satisfying comfort food: Slurping up a bowl of this soup just feels good for the soul! It’s exceptionally savory and comforting.
  • Great for batch cooking: Make a big pot and freeze leftovers in meal-sized portions. It reheats beautifully for quick weeknight dinners.
  • Nutritious ingredients: Packed with protein from the lamb, antioxidants from the veggies, and bone broth benefits, this soup checks all the boxes.
  • Customizable: Play around with add-ins like barley, chickpeas, or different veggies depending on what you have on hand. Get creative!

Now that you know why it’s so special, let’s get cooking!

Ingredients You’ll Need

Gather these ingredients to make an authentic Turkish lamb shank soup:

For the Lamb Shanks:

  • 4 lamb shanks (about 2 pounds each) – I prefer bone-in for more flavor
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons Turkish red pepper paste or regular red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Soup:

  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh green peas
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Equipment You’ll Need:

  • Large Dutch oven or soup pot (at least 7 quarts)
  • Slotted spoon
  • Ladle

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these simple steps for lip-smacking Turkish lamb shank soup:

Step 1 – Brown the Lamb Shanks

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season lamb shanks all over with salt and pepper. Working in batches if needed, add shanks and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total per batch. Remove and set aside.Browning the shanks builds tons of flavor. Take your time with this step.

Step 2 – Sauté the Aromatics

In the same pot, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes until softened.Add garlic, tomato paste, pepper paste, and spices. Cook 2 minutes more until fragrant. This is your flavor foundation, so let it cook to bring out the aromas.

Step 3 – Simmer the Shanks

Return browned lamb shanks to pot along with chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 1 1⁄2 hours. Low and slow simmering allows the collagen in the shanks to break down into luscious body.

Step 4 – Add Vegetables and Tomatoes

After 1 1⁄2 hours, add carrots, potatoes, and canned tomatoes including juices. Continue simmering 30 minutes more, until veggies are tender. The vegetables add pleasant sweetness and make it a well-rounded meal.

Step 5 – Finish and Serve

Using a slotted spoon, transfer shanks and veggies to a plate. Stir in frozen peas and lemon juice. Taste and add more seasoning if desired. Shred lamb off the bones and return meat to pot. Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy with crusty bread!

Tips for Success

  • Look for well-marbled lamb shanks with a nice ratio of fat to meat for the best flavor.
  • Dry the shanks thoroughly before searing to help them get nice and brown.
  • Skim excess fat from the surface periodically as the soup simmers.
  • Let cool slightly before shredding meat off bones to prevent burning your fingers.
  • For a smoother broth, strain through a fine mesh sieve after shredding lamb.

Now that you’ve mastered the method, let’s talk about some tasty ways to customize this soup!

Get Creative with Add-Ins

The basic ingredients above replicate an authentic Turkish lamb shank soup. But you can also add different vegetables, grains, beans, and seasonings to make it your own.


Try swapping out the carrot and potato for parsnips, turnips, celery root, or butternut squash. You can also add leeks, mushrooms, or cabbage.


Barley, farro, and wild rice all pair excellently with the rich broth. Cook them separately and add to bowls.

Beans and Legumes

Cannellini or chickpeas add fiber, protein, and texture. Drain and stir in a can near the end.

Fresh Herbs

Mix up the parsley garnish with cilantro, dill, or mint for a flavor change.

Spices and Seasonings

Customize the spices in step 2. Smoked paprika, ground coriander, and Turkish chili flakes are all great.


For a deeper meaty flavor, use all lamb broth instead of chicken. Or do half and half.


Along with lamb shanks, add boneless lamb shoulder meat or meatballs.

The possibilities are endless, so experiment to make this soup your own! The basic method stays the same.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Properly storing your leftovers preserves all that rich lamb flavor:

  • Let cool completely before transferring to airtight containers.
  • Refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 4 months.
  • To reheat, place in pot with a splash of broth or water. Simmer gently until hot throughout.
  • Add water if the soup seems too thick after reheating.
  • You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.

Storing in portion-sized containers makes grabbing a quick lunch or dinner a breeze all week long. This soup keeps incredibly well.

Common Questions

Can I make it in a slow cooker or Instant Pot?

Absolutely! Brown the shanks and aromatics first per the recipe, then combine everything in a multi-function cooker. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

What sides go well with this soup?

I love serving it with a crisp green salad, warm crusty bread, or even just a simple yogurt dip. A pinot noir wine pairs nicely too.

Do I need to soak or prep the dried beans?

Yes, always soak dried beans overnight and drain before adding to the soup pot. Canned beans can go right in.

Can I use beef broth instead of chicken?

Sure, beef broth will work if that’s what you have on hand. The flavor will be slightly different but still delicious.

What kind of lamb works best?

Look for well-marbled shanks or shoulder cuts to get the tender meat that falls off the bone after braising.

Help! My soup is too fatty!

If there is an excess layer of fat after cooking, simply skim it off the top before serving. Chilling the soup allows the fat to solidify for easier removal too.

I hope these tips help you troubleshoot anything that comes up.

Turkish Lamb Shank Soup

This hearty Turkish lamb shank soup is packed with deep, savory flavor. Tender lamb shanks are simmered with vegetables in a tomato broth spiced with paprika and mint.
Total Time 2 hours
Course Soup
Cuisine Middle East


  • Large Dutch oven or soup pot (at least 7 quarts)
  • Slotted spoon
  • Ladle


  • 4 lamb shanks about 2 lbs each
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons Turkish red pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 28- oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 carrots sliced
  • 3 russet potatoes chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Bread for serving


  • Brown lamb shanks in batches in a Dutch oven with olive oil.
  • Add onions and cook 5 minutes. Add garlic, spices and tomato paste and cook 2 more minutes.
  • Return shanks to pot with chicken broth. Simmer 1.5 hours.
  • Add carrots, potatoes and canned tomatoes. Simmer 30 minutes more.
  • Shred lamb off bones and return to pot with peas and lemon juice.
  • Serve garnished with parsley and enjoy with bread.


  • Dry shanks thoroughly before searing for best browning.
  • Skim off excess fat while simmering.
  • Let cool slightly before shredding lamb off bones.
  • Store leftovers for up to 4 days refrigerated or 4 months frozen.
Keyword lamb, soup

Enjoy This Soul-Warming Soup

I absolutely love cooking up a batch of this Turkish lamb shank soup on blustery weekends or for dinners when friends come over. Slurping spoonful after spoonful of the rich, aromatic broth with tender lamb and veggies never fails to satisfy.

The depth of flavors together in one pot really can’t be beat. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try this winter!

Let me know how it goes when you make it by leaving a comment below. I’d love to hear your feedback and any tweaks you make it your own.

Thanks for taking the time to read my homemade version of a fabulous classic soup.

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