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Cock-a-leekie Soup Recipe

Often served with a clear broth, cock-a-leekie soup can also be thickened with rice, barley, or even potatoes.

INGREDIENTS:

1 whole gutted chicken, about 4 pounds. You can remove the skin to reduce fat, but this will also reduce flavor.
12 leeks cleaned and roughly chopped
8 cups chicken stock (since this will be stewed for a long time, you can get by with water)
1 oz rice or barley
4oz cooked prunes, without the pits
One teaspoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley and thyme to taste
2 or 3 bay leaves

DIRECTIONS:

1. Put the chicken and most of the leeks (save about a quarter of them) in the soup pot and cover with cold water or stock. Bring to a gentle boil, and skim off any scum that rises to the surface.

2. Add the salt, pepper, bay leaves, parsley and thyme (you can tie these last three into a bundle to make it easier to remove later on; tie the other end of the string to one of the handles of the soup pot).

3. Bring to a gentle boil, and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Allow to simmer for at least two hours, and preferably three.

4. Remove the chicken, and when it has cooled, cut off as much meat as you want for the soup, and put the rest aside for other uses. (There is nothing wrong with using all of it, but you don’t have to. However, cock-a-leekie soup should have some chicken!) Return the desired amount of chicken to the soup.

5. Add the rice or barley to the soup, plus the prunes, and the remaining leeks. Allow to simmer for another 30 minutes.

Notes

Not everyone is a fan of the prunes in cock-a-leekie soup, although it makes an interesting flavor in my opinion. However, if you really want to add some flavor, throw in a quarter pound of chopped bacon with the chicken. This makes for just about the best broth you could ever taste!

Tips and Techniques

When using a whole chicken to create a broth or stock, it is really important to start with cold water, and to bring it to a gentle boil slowly. This also goes for beef, fish bones, or shell fish.

The reason is that you want to dissolve the flavor and nutrients rather than cauterize them with high heat. Slow dissolving lets the flavors seep out into the water, but cauterizing it locks those flavors into the bones and shells where you will never get a chance to enjoy them.

Also, if you are simmering for a long time, have a second pot of hot water on the go so you can top up the soup. That way you won’t cool it off and slow down the whole process.

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