Cock-A-Leekie Soup-A Recipe for Burns Night

Every year on January 25, Scots (and those who have plaid hearts), come together to celebrate the life and literary works of Scotland’s beloved poet, Robert Burns. Burns Night is a night for making merry. Though celebrations vary among its participants, generally it’s a night to gather with family and friends to eat traditional Scottish fare, to be entertained by all things Burns, and of course, to drink whisky! At more formal occasions, the evening commences with the joining of hands as everyone sings ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ Mr. C and I celebrate our own version of Burns Night, but to celebrate this event IN Scotland is one of my bucket list dreams.

The traditional fare on Burns Night is usually some sort of soup (such as cock-a-leekie), haggis, neeps, tatties, and something sweet (like cranachan or clootie dumpling). Today, I would like to share with you my recipe for cock-a-leekie soup. I know it sounds funny, but it’s just chicken soup with leeks. The addition of allspice really takes the taste up a notch. Enjoy it on Burns Night or any other occasion. It’s utterly delicious!

A portrait of Robert Burns.
Robert Burns, 1759-1796

 

 The Selkirk Grace

 Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

 But we hae meat and we can eat,

 And sae the Lord be thankit.

 


Cock-A-Leekie Soup

(Makes 6-8 servings)

 Ingredients:

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 

4 cups water

2 ½ pounds chicken thighs (with bones and skin)

3 stalks celery, sliced

2 bay leaves

5-6 large leeks (about 2 ½ pounds)

½ cups uncooked pearl barley

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground allspice

12 pitted prunes, halved

Additional salt and black pepper

Ingredients for Cock-a-Leekie Soup.

Steps:

1. Combine broth, water, chicken, celery, and bay leaves in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 30 minutes or until chicken is tender.  Remove chicken to cutting board to cool. *Add additional broth and water in equal parts to your pot if it appears that too much is evaporating.

2. While soup simmers, trim leeks.  Cut off roots, any damaged leaves, and very tough outer green leaves.  (I prefer to keep only about 3-4 inches of greens below the whites, as the dark green leaves can be tough and stronger-tasting. The discarded leaves can be saved to use in a stock at a later date.) Cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ¾ pieces.  Wash thouroughly in several changes of water.  Leeks are dirty little suckers!

3. Add leeks, barley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon allspice; cover and simmer 40 minutes or until leeks and barley are tender.

4. Remove skin and bones from chicken; cut into bite-size pieces.  Add to soup with prunes; simmer 3 minutes or until prunes soften.  Season with additional salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

A bowl of Cock-a-Leekie Soup on a plaid tablecloth.

Happy Burns Night, friends!!

Cheers,

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