Cock a Leekie or cockaleekie soup is a Scottish Institution, a chicken & leek soup that features barley and prunes that tastes very “modern”!
This simple soup is known as the Scottish national soup and uses simple ingredients in a wonderful chicken broth.
Chicken & Leek Soup
Regular readers will probably have formed the opinion that I am largely still a child. So before we go any further go ahead and join me in sniggering at that name.
It is also written as cockaleekie, cock o leeky, cockaleeky soup on occasions, and the flavour makes me smile as much as the name!
Now we have that out of the way, this is a gloriously old-fashioned recipe (dating to the early 1700’s), and I love old fashioned recipes! My site is littered with takes on ancient dishes like oxtail soup, Welsh cawl and Cornish Pasties.
I think that this dish tastes very “new modern”. It embraces grains and dried fruits to add body and taste to what is a very simple recipe.
This recipe relies on simple clean flavours and a great stock!
As a result, you should either make a good chicken stock or buy the very best that you can find.
If you like the combination of chicken and leek you must check out my chicken and leek pasta recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there an alternative to pearl barley?
Barley would likely have been a much more common ingredient in the history of this recipe due to its relative affordability and ubiquity in Scotland.
I use it because I prefer it, however brown rice is a perfectly acceptable substitution. Use a like for like amount and so long as you use whole grain rice, the cooking time remains the same.
Don’t worry about having a bag leftover, I also use it in my classic rabbit stew to a very Italian orzotto, a risotto made with barley.
How long will the soup last?
The soup will last in the fridge for 2-3 days and makes a fantastic easy lunch.
It does freeze but not wonderfully, I would skip that option. But if you need to bag it in strong freezer bags in portion sizes, and then pop the bag into simmering water until nice and hot.
I would not freeze for longer than a month.
Can I use chicken breast?
I personally would not, the breast will dry out and become stringy due to the lack of fat.
Do I have to use prunes?
Absolutely!!!!!! You may be surprised to see prunes as an ingredient in this recipe.
They are very traditional but even as far back as the early 19th century, many were saying they were not required.
I vehemently disagree! They add wonderful bites of sweetness to the recipe and should not be skipped.
I personally prefer them cooked in the stock which rather than served as a garnish which is common.
As far as I am concerned they are THE thing that sets cock a leekie soup apart in a sea of chicken and leek soups!
At least give it a try before you discount them! You can use leftovers in my delicious pork tenderloin with prunes recipe.
I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
- Chopping board.
- Kitchen knife.
- Kitchen tongs.
- Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
- Forks for shredding the chicken.
- Stirring and serving spoons.
Recipes for CockaLeekie soup or Cock a Leekie soup date back to the 1500's and my version embraces the traditional use of prunes and pearl barley and it is a real winter warmer!
- 2 Chicken Legs
- 1½ Litres (1½ Quarts) Chicken Stock
- 75g (½ Cup) Celery
- 300g (1½-2 Cups) Leeks
- 50g (⅓-½ Cup) Prunes
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 3 Sprigs Thyme
- 100g (½ Cup) Pearl Barley
- Salt if needed
- Cut the celery into a 5mm (¼") dice.
- Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a 20cm or 8" saucepan, have a taste of the stock, and add salt if needed.
- Add in the diced celery, thyme, bay leaf, and chicken legs and simmer on low for 40 minutes.
- Cut the leeks into 5mm (¼") thick rings.
- Cut the prunes into 1-2cm (½-¾") chunks.
- Add in the white part of the leeks, pearl barley and the prunes and cook for 20 minutes.
- Throw in the green part of the leeks and cook for a further 10 minutes.
- Remove the chicken legs and shred the chicken, discard the bones and skin and return the meat to the pan.
- Stir and Serve!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 462Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 175mgSodium: 694mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 3gSugar: 13gProtein: 42g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.