Lamb and Arborio rice, simmered in a garlicky broth, add enough body to this simple lamb and rice soup to make it feel like a satisfying meal. It’s seasoned with bay leaves and served with as many sliced chiles as you like. The finishing touch is lots of lemon juice and a touch of olive oil. Arborio rice is typically used in making risotto because it’s particularly good at absorbing flavor. It’s that same quality that makes it a great choice in this soup. The grain absorbs lots of flavors yet maintains its shape. It becomes meltingly tender on the outside with a firm bite on the inside.
Don’t add the broth to the rice until right before serving. It will soak it all up even after it’s cooked.
- 2 lamb shanks
- 3 carrots (broken into 3‑inch pieces)
- 2 yellow onions (peeled and quartered)
- 2 stalks celery (broken into 3‑inch pieces)
- 10–12 clove garlic (peeled and lightly smashed)
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 quart (plus 3/4 cups) water (divided)
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper (as seasoning, to taste)
- 3–4 Thai bird chile peppers (or to taste, sliced)
- 1–2 lemons (sliced into wedges)
- extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
Make the broth the day before: Place lamb shanks, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves into a large stock pot. Pour in 5 quarts of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to a barely bubbling at the edges of the pot, very low simmer, skimming foam and fat often, for 2 ½ hours.
Transfer the lamb to a plate to cool completely. Remove the lamb meat from the bones, and shred onto a separate plate. Discard bones. Cover and refrigerate lamb overnight.
Strain the lamb broth through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean stock pot with a lid; discard solids. Cover and refrigerate broth overnight.
The next day: Peel off the coagulated fat from the surface of the broth. Gently reheat the broth and remove from heat.
To assemble the soup: Bring 1 cups of the warm broth, remaining 3/4 cups water, and rice to a simmer in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to very low, and gently simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender about 15 minutes.
Place a big spoonful of rice onto the bottoms warm soup bowls. You might not need all the rice depending on how soupy you like it.
Meanwhile, bring remaining broth to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Add shredded lamb, and cook until heated through. Top each bowl of rice with some of the lamb and broth. Top with a few chile slices, a big squeeze of lemon to taste (you want it nice and lemony), and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately with additional lemon slices on the side.