Cawl is a word in Welsh that means “soup.” Most non-Welsh speakers, however, take it to be a specific kind of soup, more akin to what eastern-seaboard North Americans might think of as a boiled dinner.
It is a thin stew, made from simmered meat and vegetables, that makes a one-pot meal. No fat, flavour or nutrition is lost; it all goes into the broth.
The meat is often bacon, lamb or mutton. When someone speaks of Welsh Cawl, the meat is generally presumed to be lamb. And in South Wales, the meat mostly is lamb. The cut of lamb used often is the cut known as “Best end of neck.” But in other parts of the country, the meat might be bacon or smoked pork such as bacon or ham hocks.
The vegetables often include leeks, potatoes and onions, but will of course vary by season.
To make it, you simply simmer the meat until about done, then add the vegetables in the order of how much time they need to cook. But exact instructions vary. Everybody has his or her own opinion on how it should be made, and that’s usually how their grandmother made it. Sometimes some cream is stirred in at the end; sometimes the meat is browned first, though this is more of a modern touch.
Cawl often tastes better if made the day before and allowed to rest in the fridge; this also allows for skimming fat off. Some people just make the meat part first one day, refrigerate, then next day skim and add the veg.
The broth is served as a soup in bowls, then the meat & veg are served up separately as the next course. Or, it can all just be served together at once in one bowl.
In Welsh, the dish is called “Cawl Cymreig.”
Cawl means “soup”. For instance, Carrot, Orange and Coriander Soup is “Cawl Moron, Oren a Coriander” in Welsh.