Kamis, 24 Januari 2013

Scottish food: Cock-a-Leekie soup

Originally posted in February 2007; fully updated in January 2013. Cock-a-leekie soup / Kana-porrusupp

Photo by Juta Kübarsepp for the January 2013 issue of Kodu ja Aed. Recipe and styling by Nami-Nami. The tablecloth is Estonian national tartan - the blue, black and white representing the Estonian flag, the red and golden representing Scotland's Rampant Lion. 

Tomorrow the friends of Scotland and all things Scottish across the world celebrate Robert Burns' birth anniversary, hosting or attending a Burns Supper. And any self-respecting Burns Supper begins with a proper Scottish soup - either Scotch Broth or Cock-a-Leekie. As the latter is a) considerably cheaper and b) considerably easier, and something that I've cooked over and over again. Amazingly, so few ingredients (a chicken, some leeks and some juicy prunes) can result in such a flavoursome soup.

Here's the recipe for a lovely and flavoursome cock-a-leekie. It started off as a recipe from Sue Lawrence's Scots Cooking: The Best Traditional and Contemporary Recipes (excellent book, by the way!), but I've tweaked both the amounts and the instructions, including the cooking method, considerably.

Cock-a-leekie
(Cock-a-leekie supp ehk šotlaste kana-porrusupp)
Serves 10 as a starter or 4 to 6 as a main course. 

1 chicken (1.5 kg)
3-4 large leeks (1 kg)
20 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
about 2 litres water
20 juicy prunes, stoned and sliced
fresh parsley, chopped

Place the chicken in a large saucepan. Halve the leeks lengthwise, wash them well, then cut off the green parts. Chop these roughly and add to the pan with the peppercorns and bay leaf. Add the water - it should just cover the chicken. Season lightly with salt.
Bring slowly into the boil, skim off any scum that appears at the surface. Then cover and simmer for about 1.5-2 hours, until the chicken is cooked. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
Take out the chicken and remove the leeks, either with a slotted spoon or by draining the soup through a colander. Discard the cooked leeks. Remove the chicken flesh from the bones and chop into smaller pieces.
Chop the white part of the leeks, add to the pan with the prunes and chicken and bring to the boil again. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the leeks are just done.
Season with plenty of salt and pepper and serve with chopped parsley on top.


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