Otherwise known as cock-a-leekie or chicken & leek soup. Get your mind out of the gutter! I was introduced to this lovely, heart-warming soup pretty early on, when I went to the delightful cafe Rutabegorz in my hometown for the first time. I loved it then, but haven't had it in about ten years.
I set about finding the perfect recipe but they are surprisingly hard to find, as I guess it is not a very well known soup outside of its native Scotland
, where it is traditional indeed. There were no recipes in the usual spots
. There isn't even a wikipedia article for cocky leeky soup
Never fear, the powers of Google Search came to the rescue.
I found a couple super basic recipe that were almost too simple to believe: chicken (whole), leeks, white rice, a bit of parsley, and broth. That's it! I mean I guess it makes sense, because leeks are so wonderfully flavorful and delicate that they really can shine all on their own in a dish. But I wanted to get a bit more complexity of flavors so I decided to take the best of all the versions I came across, and make my own version:
Chicken stock or water: I took the scraps from my Costco chicken after stripping all the meat from it and boiled it with water, parsley, and bay leaf. Strained and refrigerated it, then skimmed off the fat. Yes, a bit labor-intensive.
About 3 leeks sliced, green parts trimmed off. I proceeded to saute them in butter first to make a confit like in Molly Wizenberg's column.
Leftover cooked chicken meat. I think I had almost a whole chicken, minus two legs and wings, but didn't end up using the whole thing
1 1/2 slices of bacon, chopped. Because bacon is awesome (though I trimmed a bit of fat)
1 carrot, 2 stalks celery, and about half an onion, because I can't really imagine making a western soup without mirepoix.
1 yukon gold potato, diced
About 3/4 c. barley: most recipes call for rice, but I prefer the texture of barley in soup
Another bay leaf for good measure.
- Some chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste (be careful, the bacon will leech saltiness)
- A few teaspoons of flour/cream to thicken
I started with onions and bits of bacon. In retrospect, I would put only 1 slice because the flavor is so strong, and overpowers the leeks a bit. Then added carrots and celery until tender. Then added the leeks, potatoes, herbs. Let the flavors meld a bit before adding chicken and barley. Next time I would wait until the end to season, because I underestimated how salty the bacon would be. When the barley is done, then I add the cream/flour. Voila.