Cock a leekie soup recipe

I take umbrage to anyone who says that British food is not good.  It’s kind of turned into a cliche and I wonder where it came from.  I’ve heard it from people that have gone to England, people that have never been, on movies, jokes on TV and read it in books that the food there is terrible.

I have not found that to be the case.  I really have never had a bad meal there. Period.  In fact, I’ve tried a lot of things that I had never heard of and found the diversity of what you can get kind of amazing.  This isn’t just in London, but in small pubs all around.

Another thing I was impressed with is the presentation.  If you watch any of the cooking shows on TV, you know that when plating your dish it should look as good as it tastes.  You can order from a pub menu and it will just be gorgeous and set in front of you with a friendly “cheers”.  I always appreciate that!

Here is a short history of this soup recipe:

“While it is called “Scotland’s National Soup,” it likely originated as a chicken and onion soup in France.  By the 16th century, it had made its way to Scotland, where the onions were replaced with leeks.  The first recipe was printed in 1598,  though the name “cock-a-leekie” did not come into use until the 18th century”. (From Wikipedia)

Years ago I heard this recipe on a radio talk show and hastily wrote it down.  I planted leeks last fall, so when they needed thinning I thought of this recipe and searched it out in a desk drawer.  It’s pretty easy with just a few ingredients but the flavor is rich and satisfying.   I don’t even remember the radio station I was listening to so I can’t credit anyone with this recipe but I think it’s fairly common.

Cock a leekie soup:

2 lbs of chicken

4 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup of barley

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup leeks, julienned, mostly the white part

2 tbsp fresh parsley

Cut the chicken into chunks and brown in 2 tbsp of butter, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.   Use the remaining butter to brown the fresh ginger and leeks for a few minutes until ginger starts to brown and leeks get a bit limp.  Add the chicken broth, barley and chicken.  Simmer slow for about an hour, add the fresh parsley just before serving.

Of course I go with what I have, so I used half of a roasted chicken that I had in the freezer.  I put that in my soup pot with the chicken broth and let it simmer on low for about an hour on its own.  I then removed it and let it cool before I stripped all of the good meat off and tossed  it back into the pot.  At this point I sauteed the leeks and ginger in the butter and added them to the pan.  I de-glazed the ginger in the bottom of the pan with a little Riesling and added that to the pot.  I like to season all of the chicken soups I make with “better than bullion  which is an excellent concentrated flavoring.  It looks like a golden paste. I usually wait to add any salt until after I’ve flavored with this because it is salty as well.  I was going to add some cilantro at the end because I prefer the strong flavor of it to parsley, but I forgot.  Also, because I try to stay away from gluten I used brown rice instead of the barley.   It was excellent anyway, so I think that no matter what you do it will turn out delicious.

I made some gluten free biscuits and it was a hardy meal and we have lunch tomorrow as well!

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6 thoughts on “Cock a leekie soup recipe

  1. Way to go Linda! I think the French (our dearly beloved all time enemies) started the rumour. They call us, ‘Roast beefs,’ and say we are a nation of only one sauce (gravy). Love it! When you have good gravy and good food, you don’t need fancy sauces to disguise the flavour of terrible food like frogs legs! (Up the Frogs – our name for them!)

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  2. Oh this is one of my favourite soups. There’s lots of French influence in Scottish cooking, so it doesn’t surprise me that its origins lie in France. I’m so glad you like the British food, I think perhaps in the years after the war it was all pretty grim, but there is so much wonderful local produce I just don’t know what’s not to like.

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    • I have so many new favorites since traveling to England. On my last trip I had a Scottish dessert called “Raspberry Cranachan” that I loved. I tried to duplicate it when I got home and got pretty close. I couldn’t get the oats toasted right, they were a bit hard and chewy which isn’t like what I had. I’ll try it again because it was very nice and refreshing. I thought maybe I should have soaked the oats overnight and then spread them on a cookie sheet and toast them that way.
      I have heard that Scottish salmon is the best in the world, so I will try that when I get over there in the (hopefully not too distant) future!

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      • Cranachan is so yummy, another favourite of mine. We grow a huge surplus of raspberries in the summer so this is something I make quite a lot! Did you put whiskey in the cream?

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      • We have lots of raspberries here as well, they’re like a weed. Not as bad as the blackberries though. I love them when they aren’t taking over my garden. You can seriously just pull over to the side of the road in August and pick a bunch to freeze or make a cobbler or jam.
        I didn’t use whiskey, so that’s the problem!

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