Cock-a-leekie Soup: Serious soup with a non-serious name.

Cock-a-leekie Soup:  Serious soup with a non-serious name.

It’s true what they say about chicken soup. It’s food for the soul, can make any bruise better, any bad day alright.   It’s like a big hug from Mom.  I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where everything was from scratch, including chicken soup (I’m not even sure that I knew canned broth existed until high school).  We ate ours with long noodles that splashed broth in our faces when we slurped too fast.  I love the smell of it: a bubbling pot of chicken soup seems to fill the whole the house with warmth. So, when my Scottish friend Leek suggested I make Cock-a-leekie Soup, I was excited to try it since it was familiar, but not. A twist on what I consider traditional chicken soup, it is obviously, as you can tell by the name, chock full of leeks.  And as I walked home from work after what seemed like the longest day, trudging through the sideways rain with my useless umbrella, my plan to make cock-a-leekie soup came just at the right time.

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It’s really easy, but talk about variations!  Leek’s mom didn’t have a tried-and-true recipe, and when I looked for one, I couldn’t decide which one to make: Some had only leeks, while some had carrots, parsnips and celery. Some had cream. Some had curry powder.  But here I’m offering up my own, sticking with the idea that it’s supposed to be simple, comforting and clean.

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I actually made this into a two step process, which is totally unnecessary. I boiled the chicken the night before so that I’d be able to strain off the resultant fat.  By refrigerating overnight, the fat just pools to the top.  See?

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The resultant fat

Cock-a-leekie Soup
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 4 chicken legs
  2. 8 cups water or chicken stock
  3. 3 large leeks, sliced and washed well
  4. 1/2 cup barley, uncooked
  5. 1/2 TB dried thyme
  6. salt and pepper
  7. 12 prunes, sliced
  8. handful of parsley
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken into a large soup pot. Pour in the 8 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat until chicken is cooked, about 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and cut into chunks once cool. (At this point I'd put in in the fridge overnight)
  2. To the chicken broth, add leeks, barley, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook for about 40 minutes until the leeks are tender and the barley is cooked.
  3. About ten minutes before you're ready to eat it, add the chicken and prunes to the pot. Serve with parsley.
Notes
  1. If you want to make this in one day, you can skip the refrigeration step and just move forward.
  2. Also, because I tend to cook for one, and didn't want to make a pot with a whole chicken, I used legs only.
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World http://thehungarybuddha.com/

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The best accompaniment? Brown Bread, of course.

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