Cock-a-Leekie

(Scottish Chicken and Leeks Soup)

Cock-a-leekie

January: National Soup Month

The ultimate comfort food for cold weather (and for colds and flu) is chicken soup. We have blogged before about tinolang manok, a Filipino-style chicken soup. But this recipe post is for cock-a-leekie, a Scottish-style chicken soup, for Hogmanay (Scottish New Year) and the upcoming Burns Supper celebrations in the latter part of January.

Highlander’s Scottish relatives shared several versions of their recipes with us but we have adapted one for our own tastes and kept the traditional ingredients—cock (chicken), leekie (leeks) and prunes. Other recipes add bacon rashers, rice or barley as thickeners, carrots, celery and onions. The hot broth is heart-warming, the chicken provides protein to the body, leeks lend a natural flavor and the prunes are for fiber.

During National Soup Month, cook a comfort food, cock-a-leekie, (Scottish chicken and leeks soup). Slàinte mhor (great health)!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 leeks, sliced (white parts only)
  • 6 chicken drumsticks (2 leg quarters or 4 thighs)
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 8+ cups of chicken stock
  • bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf and parsley mix)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ – 1 cup prunes, cut in half

Directions

Wash the leeks thoroughly to remove the dirt embedded below the green tops. Trim the bottom of the leeks and slice the white parts. In a large pot, brown the chicken in melted butter. Stir in the chopped bacon and cook till crisp.

Cock-a-leekie

Add the sliced leeks. Pour in the chicken stock and bouquet garni. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to simmer. Let it stew for one hour, stirring occasionally and adding a cup or two of water to the broth, if more liquid is needed.

Cock-a-leekie

Remove the chicken from the pot, then take the meat off the bones and chop coarsely. Return the chopped chicken meat to the soup pot and season with salt and pepper. Add the prunes and simmer for 15 more minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls or cups. Serve hot with crusty bread.

Cock-a-leekie

Notes 

  • Happy Hogmanay (Scottish New Year) to all our blog readers! Have a happy and healthy new year!
  • We made a bouquet garni by putting a half teaspoon of dried thyme, one bay leaf and a teaspoon of dried parsley in a tea bag. Soak it in the soup while it is simmering over the stovetop. Discard after cooking.
  • Check out other chicken soup recipes by searching our blog.

Leek and Ham Tarts

Leek and Ham Tarts

March 1: Feast Day of St. David

Much like St. Patrick of Ireland is associated with shamrocks, St. David of Wales is linked to leeks. The vegetable is one of the country’s national emblems, along with the daffodil, which is also known as “Peter’s leek” (presumably inspired by the first pope).

We usually make St. David’s Leek Pie (see our blog recipe post) to honor Dewi Sant. But sometimes we just want to make something simpler, smaller and swiftly, like a Celtic kind of quiche. Leek and ham tarts are truly tasty and an appropriate appetizer to serve on the feast day of the Welsh patron saint.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 cup leeks, washed and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • ½ – 1 cup ham, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Wash the leeks thoroughly. Pat dry and chop finely. Saute the leeks in butter until slightly wilted. Salt and pepper to taste.

Leek and Ham Tarts

In a separate bowl, mix together the egg and half-and-half. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the cheese, leeks and ham.

Leek and Ham Tarts

Mist a muffin tin with cooking spray. Unfold the puff pastry sheets. Cut into nine squares each. Press each square into the cavities of the muffin tin with the pointy edges sticking up.

Leek and Ham Tarts

Spoon some filling into each pastry. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and keep warm for another 10 minutes, being careful not to burn the pastry. Remove from the oven and carefully take out each tart. Serve hot. Yield: 18 tarts.

Leek and Ham Tarts

Notes

  • If there are any leftovers of these leek and ham tarts, we recommend reheating them in the oven instead of in the microwave to retain the puff pastry’s crispness.
  • Search our blog for recipes with ingredients containing leeks.

 

St. David’s Leek Pie

St. David's Leek Pie

March 1: Feast Day of St. David

Our oft-mentioned friend, Lisa L., is married to a Welshman, John L. Islander was fortunate to have been the matron of honor at their wedding in Germany. They incorporated interesting German, American and Welsh traditions in their multicultural marriage ceremony. One Welsh custom is that the groom carves a wooden spoon for his bride as a symbol of love. The lovespoon is then displayed in their home. John carved a cute spoon for Lisa and gave it to her on their wedding day. And Lisa presented a special spoon imported from her husband’s homeland to Islander for their longtime friendship. That treasured spoon is now pictured as a prop above with the leek pie we baked for the Feast Day of St. David, the patron saint of Wales.

Recipe

(Adapted from Cooking with the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf)

For the shortcrust pastry

  • 2 cups flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ice water

Directions

In a large bowl, put the flour and salt. Rub in the shortening and butter until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs. Pour a little bit of ice water to make a kneadable dough. Roll into a ball and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

St. David's Leek Pie

Divide the dough into two pieces. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each into a disc to line the bottom of the pie pan and cover the top of the pie.

St. David's Leek Pie

 

For the filling

  • 3 cups leek, cleaned and sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Prepare the green parts of the leek only. Saute in butter until soft. Fill the bottom of the pie crust.

St. David's Leek Pie

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. Pour over the leeks. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

St. David's Leek Pie

Cover with the remaining pie dough. Trim then seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes and the crust turns golden brown. Slice and serve immediately.

St. David's Leek Pie

Notes

 

Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise

November 18: National Vichyssoise Day

Vichyssoise (pronounced vee-shee-swahz), a summer soup, has its own national food holiday strangely scheduled in an off season—fall. While it may have a fancy French name, the simple potato-and-leeks cream soup was invented in America. French chef Louis Diat, who worked at the Ritz-Carlton in New York in the early 1900s, was inspired to create vichyssoise in the hotel kitchen from a similar soup that he ate as a child in his hometown, Montmarault, near Vichy in France. His recipe is traditionally served chilled, but we like vichyssoise warmed up for an autumn appetizer. Whether eaten hot or cold, enjoy potato-and-leeks cream soup on National Vichyssoise Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from The Way to Cook by Julia Child and Soup Song)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 leeks
  • 4 medium potatoes (old potatoes recommended)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 3 cups water or chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • chives or parsley (optional garnish)

Directions

Wash the leeks thoroughly and slice the white parts about an inch thick. Clean, peel and dice the potatoes. In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat. Saute the leeks until wilted but not browned. Turn up the heat and add the potatoes, chicken stock and milk. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to simmer for 30 minutes. Let the soup cool to room temperature.

Vichyssoise

Puree the soup in batches in a blender. Pour into a container, cover and refrigerate. Before serving, stir the cream into the soup and mix thoroughly. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with chives or parsley.

Vichyssoise

Notes

  • We used a variety of leftover potatoes for this recipe. Older potatoes yield a starchy and sweeter taste. Chicken stock also adds richness to the soup than water and has enough salt for flavor. The whipping cream mixed into the cooled soup lightens the color of the vichyssoise for an elegant presentation.
  • Search our blog for other potato and soup recipes.