Cock-a-leekie Soup

This is a wonderful recipe for any cold day, but of course it is a classic dish to be served for Burn Supper or St Andrews Day.

There are various recipes out there for this soup, and the tradition is to serve it with prunes, this does make the soup very sweet so I have a little trick so you can stick to the tradition, but to reduce the sweetness, follow the recipe and you will see how I do this.

Ingredients:
1 chicken, about 2Kg, including legs and wings
500g leeks cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ltrs of chicken stock
30g long grained rice
120g cooked, stoned prunes
5g brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Garni of bay leaf, parsley, thyme
100g chopped rashers of streaky bacon (or lardons)

Method:
Take a large pot and add some vegetable oil and 10g of butter, allow the butter to melt and add the bacon and fry until cooked, then add the chicken and the chicken stock and top up with additional water to ensure you cover with chicken.

Bring to the boil, then turn down to a rolling simmer and remove any scum as it develops on the top of the liquid.

Add three-quarters of the leeks, (green as well as white sections), herbs (tied together in a bundle), salt and pepper and simmer gently for 2-3 hours, put a lid on and keep checking, adding more water if necessary.

We need to remove the chicken, this is a bit tricky as the meat will be falling off the bones now, so very carefully remove the chicken from the soup and place on a large bowl.  Remove the meat from the bones, keeping the breasts intact. Then cut any large pieces of meat into small pieces and add all the meat back to the soup,  I like to have a lot of chicken in the soup, if you prefer, you can keep the breasts for serving as another dish.

Now this is the trick with the prunes, we need to warm them up as they will reduce the temperature of the soup if you add them cold, so I take some of the soup out into a small pot and add the prunes to this small pot, this serves 2 points, 1) warms the prunes and 2) stops the main soup becoming sweet with the prunes……

Add the rice and the remaining leeks to the main pot of soup and simmer for another 30 minutes. Check for seasoning and add some salt and pepper if needed (it shouldn’t need much).

To serve, place the soup in the bowl, top with 2/3 prunes and a little chopped parsley.

Serves 6/8 people.

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