Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe

The Spruce

  • Total: 2 hrs
  • Prep: 90 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
415 Calories
21g Fat
14g Carbs
41g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: Serves 4
Amount per serving
Calories 415
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 26%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 127mg 42%
Sodium 137mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Protein 41g
Calcium 41mg 3%
*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.)

This earthy and traditional Scottish dish dates back to the 16th century. With many variations, none are wrong. After all, this is a chicken and leek soup and of course, its recipe is open to interpretation. Some cooks may add chopped grilled bacon to the soup, some will use beef stock or vegetable stock, and many suggest offering stewed prunes with the finished dish as was recommended by Talleyrand, the French gourmet. Barley is also a grain of choice to make the soup, but rice is preferred.

Our recipe uses a whole chicken cooked in a pot, but no prunes. If you like the sweet-savory combination, use prunes either by adding 12 pitted prunes to the pot 40 minutes before the end of the cooking time or by slicing some stewed prunes on top as garnish.

Whichever your choice of recipe for cock-a-leekie, do try this traditional, easy recipe based on one from the late Ronnie Clydesdale of the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow, one of the most Scottish restaurants to be found.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds 12 ounces whole chicken (fresh and free-range)
  • 12 medium-sized leeks (well-washed and chopped to 1-inch lengths)
  • 4 ounces long grain rice (washed)
  • 3 to 4 medium-sized carrots (peeled and grated)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (crushed, to taste)
  • Garnish: Chopped 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.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     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.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Take the pan off the heat and remove the chicken. Place the bird on a dish or large plate and reserve, covered, until it is cool. If you need to refrigerate the chicken at this stage, wait until it has cooled off completely.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     The Spruce
  5. Strain the broth into a clean pan large enough to hold the remaining ingredients.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     The Spruce
  6. Add the rice to the stock and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 10 minutes.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     The Spruce
  7. After 10 minutes, add the grated carrots and the rest of the chopped leeks. Continue cooking for 20 more minutes, uncovered.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     The Spruce
  8. Taste for the strength of flavor in the broth and, if necessary, reduce the liquid even further to increase it until it has reached your desired flavor.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     The Spruce
  9. Once you have reached the intensity of flavor you prefer, season the broth with salt and pepper.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     The Spruce
  10. Chop some of the reserved chicken into pieces, place it into hot bowls, and pour over the broth and vegetables. The soup is traditionally served with big chunks of vegetables and chicken. If using, add chopped parsley on top of each bowl.

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     The Spruce
  11. Serve hot and enjoy!

    Cock-a-Leekie Soup Recipe
     The Spruce

What to Do with the Leftover Chicken

You're using a whole chicken and are going to have plenty of chicken meat left to make other tasty recipes. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Serve some chicken meat with mealie or boiled potatoes, in a true Scottish meal.
  • Less traditional, but nonetheless very tasty, make a chicken curry soup.
  • Use the chicken meat layered with mashed potatoes, peas and carrots. Serve with mushroom gravy.
  • Mix 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 wraps, or to serve over lettuce.
  • Sautee the chicken in olive oil with broccoli, peppers, and onions. Serve over white rice.
  • Buy a good quality jarred Alfredo sauce, make the pasta of your liking, and mix the chicken meat with the sauce before mixing it with the pasta. Add a good amount of grated Parmesan on top.