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Cock-a-Leekie Soup


A fine and traditional Scots appetite stimulant to solid fare. As early as 1598 Fynes Morrison recorded that it was served at a Knight's house with boiling fowl (thus the "cock") and prunes. By the late 18th century, French statesman and gastronome Charles Maurice de Talleyrand opined that the prunes should be cooked with the soup but removed before serving. Ultimately they were removed from the recipe altogether. Sir Walter Scott in St. Ronan's Well cannot help exclaiming: "Such were the cock-a-leekie and the savoury minced collops...." Serve hot to 4-6 people.

  • 6 leeks, sliced into half moons after cutting away the roots and dark green and washing
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups strong chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons butter (even better, chicken fat)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnish: optional: julienne of prunes (which a reader assures me is still traditional)

Bring the stock to a boil, add leeks, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Whisk in butter (or fat) and season. Stir in the cream (and prunes) at the end, ladle into bowls, and serve immediately.