Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

This soup is a very traditional Scottish dish (and is very popular in Ireland too!)...the ultimate comfort food (if you don't count the mornin' Parritch). Basically a  chicken soup that features leeks and barley, this is a perfect rainy day or Get Well meal.  When you make a long cooking chicken soup like this, it is prefered to use an old hen, capon or pullet. They have a stronger taste that is ideal for a soup. The only 'new' addition to this traditional soup is the lemon grass...I added it because I love a hit of lemon in my chicken soup. Serve with warm buttered scones or biscuits.


Cock-a Leekie Soup

8 cups of water
1 stewing chicken (3-4 pounds) giblets removed
4 - 6 large leeks washed and sliced  discarding the tough upper green leaves
1 bay leaf
1 stalk lemon grass (cut away lower bulb and tough outer leaves retaining the yellow main stalk)
3/4 cup pearled barley
1/4 cup fresh parsley  chopped  (or you can use baby spinach chopped)
1/2 tea salt and cracked black pepper

In a large 6 qt soup pot add water, chicken, 1/2 the leeks, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Prepare your lemon grass by cutting the yellow stalk into 2-3 inch lengths. Then “bruise” these sections by bending them several times. Make superficial cuts along these sections with a knife, which will help release the lemon flavor. Add these bruised stalks to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off foam .  Reduce heat and simmer covered. Skim as needed. Simmer for 2 hours or until chicken falls away from the bone.
Carefully using a slotted spoon transfer chicken to a plate and cool.  When it is cool remove skin and pick meat from the bones and return the meat to the pot. Add the barley and the rest of the leeks to the pot and return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer covered for 20 minutes or until barley is tender. Remove bay leaf and lemon grass.  Stir in parsley and serve.

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