Celebrating Burns Night – with Vegetarian Haggis

It only seems like five minutes ago that I was clearing away Christmas decorations and making New Year Resolutions and yet here I am making Burns Night preparations.

Burns Night,  is held in honour of Scotland’s most famous poet Robert Burns,  and is held each year on  January 25th to mark his Birthday.


The tradition started a few years after the poet’s death in 1796, when his friends commemorated his career on the date of his death (July 21st) each year. This marked the birth of the Burns Supper and  eventually it became a nationwide event that cme to be held on his Birthday  includes recitals of the poet’s work, haggis and whisky.


Those who partake in the full Burns Night Ritual  are piped in and then The Selkirk Grace  is recited before dinner. The prayer is attributed to Robert Burns, however, a version of this stanza was known in the 17th century as the Galloway Grace or the Covenanters’ Grace and was said in Lallans (the Lowland Scots dialect). 


Selkirk Grace


Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat

Sae let the Lord be thankit.


So, what’ on my Burns Night Menu? Well, I shall be making a rather delicious vegetarian feast to celebrate Burns Night and it will include a warming and hearty Scottish Broth  for starters and then a home made haggis. In our home we like any excuse for a bit of pomp and ceremony so we serve our home-made vegetarian haggis with neeps and tatties and it is always carried in on a silver salver or a special plate; though sadly we can’t manage the pipes my children are happy to partake in some slow clapping and of course there has to be a recital of Ode to a Haggis


Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
You pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’need
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead

His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reeking, rich!

Then, horn for horn they stretch an’ strive,
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive
Bethankit hums

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash
His spindle-shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle

Ye pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
An’ dish them out their bill o’fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ pray’r,
Gie her a Haggis!




120g country soup mix  ( A mix of pearl barley, yellow split peas, green split peas, marrowfat peas and red split lentils)

1 tbsp olive oil

25g (1oz) butter 1 large onion finely diced

200g (7oz) parsnips, peeled and grated

2 tsp vegetarian Worcester Sauce

1 tbsp marmite

1 tbsp brown sauce

2 tsp mustard

1/4 tsp mixed spice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground white pepper

125g (4oz) Portobello flat mushrooms, finely diced

100g (3 1/2oz) whole ready-to-use chestnuts, chopped

75g (3oz) FINE OATMEAL

450ml (3/4 pint) vegetable stock


Ideally you need to soak the country soup mix overnight, however, if you forget, weigh and rinse the mix in cold water then boil in fresh water for twenty minutes before soaking for three hours in clean fresh water.

Place the soaked country soup mix into a large saucepan and cover with fresh, cold water water.
Place the pan on the hob on a high heat. Bring to the boil and boil  rapidly for 10 minutes.
5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 50 minutes,  or until the country soup mix has softened but is slightly firm to the bite.
6. Drain thoroughly, rinse and set aside.


Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pan and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes until soft and add the grated parsnips and the all the spices. Stir to prevent sticking and cook until starting to turn golden.

Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Add the mushrooms to the onion and parsnip mixture and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the chestnuts, oats, country soup mix, marmite, brown sauce, mustard and veggie Worcester sauce.

Add the vegetable stock and cook until the mixture is thick and almost all of the liquid is gone. Put the mixture in a 2-litre loaf tin or divide between timbale moulds and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.


I serve this with a home made port gravy and heaps of neeps and tatties.