Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
620 Calories
29g Fat
29g Carbs
60g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 620
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 37%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 183mg 61%
Sodium 414mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 60g
Vitamin C 14mg 72%
Calcium 129mg 10%
Iron 6mg 33%
Potassium 807mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cock-a-leekie soup is a traditional Scottish dish that dates back to the 16th century. As with many time-honored recipes, this soup has several variations—and none are wrong—although all are commonly served with big chunks of vegetables and chicken.

Some cooks may add chopped cooked bacon to the soup, some will use beef or vegetable stock, and others will use barley instead of rice. Many cooks suggest offering stewed prunes with the finished dish, as was recommended by Talleyrand, the French gourmet.

This recipe uses a whole chicken cooked in a pot, but no prunes. If you like a sweet and savory combination, either add 12 pitted prunes to the pot 40 minutes before the end of the cooking time or garnish with some sliced stewed prunes.

"If you like leek, you would love this recipe. The soup is very easy to prepare and it's packed with flavors with minimal ingredients and effort. There will be leftovers chicken so you can use it in different recipes after. I didn't t discard the leeks after straining the broth. I also squeezed some lemon juice on top and it tasted amazing!" -Tara Omidvar

Cock-a-Leekie Soup
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 (2 3/4-pound) free-range fresh whole chicken

  • 12 medium leeks, well-washed and cut to 1-inch lengths, divided

  • 4 ounces long-grain rice, washed

  • 3 to 4 medium carrots, peeled and grated

  • Salt, to taste

  • Ground black pepper, to taste

  • Chopped fresh parsley

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. Put the chicken and half of the chopped leeks in a large stockpot or pan and cover with cold water.

    Chicken and leeks in a pot with water
     The Spruce
  3. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer gently for 1 hour, or until the chicken is falling off the bone. The amount of time needed depends on the size and freshness of the chicken. An older chicken might take longer to cook to the desired consistency.

    Cooked chicken and leeks in the pot
     The Spruce
  4. Take the pan off of the heat and remove the chicken to a dish or large plate; cover loosely and set aside to cool. If you need to refrigerate the chicken at this stage, wait until it has cooled off completely.

    Cooked chicken removed from the pot
     The Spruce
  5. Strain the broth into a clean pan large enough to hold the remaining ingredients. Discard the leeks or add to the broth if you like.

    Strained broth in a pot
     The Spruce
  6. Add the rice to the stock and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.

    Rice cooking in the broth in a pot
     The Spruce
  7. After 10 minutes, add the grated carrots and the rest of the chopped leeks. Continue cooking for 20 more minutes, uncovered.

    Leeks and carrots added to hot broth
     The Spruce
  8. Taste the broth; if it isn't flavorful enough, reduce the liquid even further to reach your desired taste.

    Broth and carrots cooking in the broth
     The Spruce
  9. Season the broth with salt and pepper.

    Broth and veggies in a big pot with salt and pepper on the side
     The Spruce
  10. Cut up the whole chicken and chop some of the meat into pieces. (You will have leftover chicken meat. Use as much or as little chicken meat as you prefer for each serving.)

  11. Place the chopped chicken meat into warmed bowls and pour over the broth and vegetables. Garnish the soup with chopped parsley.

    Shredded chicken in a bowl with soup broth and veggies on the side
     The Spruce
  12. Serve hot and enjoy.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     The Spruce

How to Store

Store leftover soup in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

What to Do with the Leftover Chicken

Since this recipe calls for a whole chicken but only uses some of the meat, you're going to have plenty of chicken leftover to make other tasty recipes.

  • Serve some chicken meat with mealie (steel-cut oats, onions, and suet stuffed in a natural casing) or boiled potatoes for a true Scottish meal.
  • Use the leftover chicken to make a chicken curry soup.
  • Layer the chicken meat with mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots and serve with mushroom gravy.
  • Make chicken salad by mixing cold chicken meat with mayo, chopped celery, chopped green peppers, chopped green apples, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Use the mixture to make sandwiches, wraps, or serve over lettuce.
  • Quickly sauté the chicken in olive oil with broccoli, peppers, and onions. Serve over white rice.
  • Mix the chicken meat with good-quality Alfredo sauce before topping cooked pasta. Sprinkle over a generous amount of grated Parmesan.

Make Ahead

You can cook the chicken and make the broth up to 2 days ahead of time.

How Do You Prepare Leeks for Soup?

Leeks consist of tightly wrapped leaves and grow in sandy soil. Grit gets trapped between the leaves as it grows, so you'll want to clean leeks well before using. Give the vegetable a good rinse and then slice or chop. Rinse the leeks well in a fine-mesh strainer to remove any further dirt, drain, and use.

Where Does Cock-a-Leekie Soup Get Its Name?

The Scottish soup cock-a-leekie soup likely draws its name from two of the main ingredients, chicken and leeks.