Cock-a-Leekie

Cock-a-Leekie

A traditional brothy soup of chicken and leeks makes up a sweet and savory Scottish bowl of Cock-a-Leekie.

This dish most likely originated in France as an onion soup, possibly a derivative of coq a vin. By the time it evolved into Scotland’s national soup, the onions were replaced by leeks (Allium ampeloprasum), which grow well in the cooler weather of the British Isles. The dish evolved to become a hardy chicken soup fortified with grains, dried fruits and whiskey.

This recipe is little more than a simple chicken soup with a healthy addition of chopped leeks, with are sautéed with bacon or bacon fat until soft and flavorful. Celery and carrots can also be included to round out the mirepoix. Julienned prunes are a traditional ingredient, adding a mild sweetness as well as a touch of fruit and smoke to this savory bowl.

Many grains can be used as a thickener or extender, most commonly rice or pearled barley. Even homemade dumplings would not be out of place in this dish, nor would potatoes or other root vegetables. And of course, a splash of fine Scottish whiskey to finish makes everything better. (If not whiskey, a dry white wine also works.)

Cock-a-leekie was one of two soups featured on the lunch menu of the RMS Titanic on the day it sank in 1912. Serve with some crusty bread or toast and a glass of single malt, if so inclined.


Cock-a-Leekie

2 chicken thighs
2 rashers of bacon
2-3 leeks
4 c chicken stock
¼ c rice
6 prunes (pitted)
¼ t thyme
2 T parsley
1 bay leaf
whiskey
black pepper
salt

1 Chop the bacon and render its fat over medium heat. Chop the leeks and sauté in the bacon until soft, about 5-10 min. Roughly chop the prunes and add along with bay leaf, parsley and thyme.

2 Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and rice along with 1 c of water, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 min.

3 Retrieve the chicken and set aside. Shred when cool and return to the pot.

Finish with a shot of Scottish whiskey just before serving.

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