Recipe Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Mountain Cat

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cookaleekie-serve-.jpg

Cock-a-leekie soup, a warming Scottish meal. Yes, I still prefer to eat all soups with Chinese spoons! Very efficient.


.:My recipe is an amalgamate of the following ideas:.

5 Steps to Traditional Scottish Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Cock a Leekie Soup

I’m figuring the original soup was based on cocks/cockerels like this one (from the name of the soup if nothing else), so he became a good surrogate for the soup. If you don’t have a cockerel or rooster that HAS to go, try to find a free-ranged chicken somewhere – use either the whole bird or the thighs/legs. Cooking will take less time than needed for a true cock of the age this one is. (A full-fledged rooster is sometimes defined as a male chicken that is over a year in age – but I think the distinctions can be hazy. No, he did not have fully-developed spurs yet – simply nubs, or a vocal crow… – which may also be a consideration in definitions.)



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Celery and leeks added to the pot.
  1. Okay, I used a real farm-fresh cockerel (as noted, most likely you will have to adapt in terms of braising and temperatures. I will leave such notes with the recipe.
  2. Many contemporary recipes use rice. I went with barley, which the earlier Scots certainly grew. They definitely didn’t know rice!
  3. The traditional recipes usually included prunes. Ahem. Not sure how fond of them I am – not with their connotations of being the best cure for constipation around – but, I certainly didn’t have to overload the dish with them. Apparently, there’s not one “set in stone” recipe for cock-a-leekie – you need the cock/fowl, you need the leeks — but beyond that (although keeping a grain in there that would have been available in Scotland in history) it’s up to the cook. So. Okay. A few prunes. I ended up not using them since the only jar I could find of them in my local shop was going to provide me with a lifetime of the things… but I wish I could have!)
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Barley is added. A small amount of salt and pepper may be added now, but reserve most of each for when the soup or stew is ready.. We are now Ready to Cook!
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The dish has finished simmering, it is now up to me to remove the meat from the bones, return the meat to the pot long enough to make sure everything is hot, and taste for salt and pepper.

Prep Time: 15 minutes.
Cook Time: Around 2 hours (but look below).
Rest Time: Not necessary.
Serves: 4.
Cuisine: Scottish.
Leftovers: YES. May go from “soup” to “stew” overnight, as barley absorbs liquids with time..

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

  • 1 cup low sodium veggie broth. (Home made chicken broth is a great alternative.)
  • 2 cups water.
  • 1 torso cockerel. (Breast, back, drumsticks, thighs). If you use supermarket chicken, broken up, simply cook less as indicated below. Optionally, remove skin. I did not.
  • 1 LARGE leek, roots and the dry top removed. Slice horizontally, making sure to cleanse out any dirt that usually appears in these. Or use two smaller leeks.
  • 2 ribs celery – slice once along the length, then chop into smaller portions.
  • 1/3 cup barley.
  • OPTIONAL: about two-three chopped prunes. Traditional!
  • OPTIONAL: 1 chopped carrot. Mainly for color. Didn’t have (so I didn’t use.) Parsnips could also make a good addition.
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste. Start with a little at first, add more if needed when finished.
Put all of the above into a good cooking pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for two hours (checking liquid).

If you are using a supermarket chicken, 1.5 hours will suffice. If you are using a year old or so rooster or hen, you may want to go three hours. This cockerel (about 4-5 months old) was good at 2 hours.

When cooked, you can cut the meat off the bones, returning the meat to the broth and serve as a true soup, or you can serve this as-is, depending on your whims. I decided for the sake of this meal, to debone and return this.

Add pepper and salt, to taste, preferably at the end (as you don’t know how much liquid will evaporate off in advance). Serve.
 

Morning Glory

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Its ages since I made a cock-a-leekie soup. I'm going through a bit of a soup making phase right now so might attempt your recipe. I love the idea of adding prunes - a tradition I've not come across before. Barley is perfect in this recipe.
 

The Late Night Gourmet

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This is a remarkable recipe, made even more remarkable by the history behind the recipe. I never thought of cooking with cockerel before, but it sounds like a robust bird: like chicken, but larger. It sounds like it's lean enough to potentially be dry, but that certainly isn't a danger here.
 
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