Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cock-A-Leekie Soup

This is a staple of Scottish cuisine. It might not look like much, but it is one of the best soups you will ever eat.

Cook 6 pieces of bacon in a heavy pot until they are crisp. Salt and pepper 8 chicken legs and brown them in the bacon fat until they are golden.

Keep the bacon on the side for now.

Remove the legs and set them aside too.

I thought this was a good chance to use some of my minced bacon. You can skip this step if you have none.

Clean and slice a dozen leeks.

Add 2/3 of them to the bacon grease and saute' for a few minutes.

Add the legs to the pot and pour in 10 cups of chicken broth.

Thinly slice the cooked bacon and add it to the stock. Add several stalks of sliced celery.

Add 4 thinly sliced carrots and a bouquet garni made from parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Add 2 cups of rinsed barley.

Bring this to a slow boil and skim off any scum that rises to the top. This could make your soup bitter if not removed.

And here is the key to this soup. See that dark spot on the spoon? Prunes. Don't run away yet! When I first made this I thought, no way am I adding prunes to soup. However, I wanted to make it as authentic as possible as I do all of my recipes. So, I decided to make the soup with the prunes and then remove them before serving. As the day went on and the smell filled my house and I watched the prunes virtually dissolve, I decided to leave them in. And boy am I glad I did. This is an example of respecting something that has been done the same way for hundreds of years. There is a reason prunes were added. There is virtually no prune flavor at all to the soup, rather, they add a deep richness to the soup that makes it as exceptional as it is. So, make sure you slice up about 8 prunes and add them. You too will be glad you did. Removing the pits is a good idea too.

Add 2-3 tablespoons of cracked black pepper. I also added a container of chicken demi glace'. If you don't have any, add some chicken bouillon. Taste it and adjust the seasoning. Let the soup simmer for a couple of hours. Remove the chicken legs and add the remaining leeks. Remove the meat from the legs and return it to the soup.

Great soup with a fun name. Your kids will like to say it. Mine thought I made it up.