Saturday, January 27, 2018

cock-a-leekie soup

Just a few months of radio silence there.

But now — now!

Now, it is 2018 and it appears to be the Year of the Flu at our house, so I have a great many chicken soup recipes in store for you.

Let's start with this one. Unless you're Scottish, you might not have heard of it before.

I will tell you all about it. First and foremost, it is very tasty and just the thing you want to eat in the winter, whether you are sickly or healthy. It is also quick, which is handy when you're frail or come home from work and want to eat quickly on a dark winter's night.

It is basically a chicken soup with leeks and rice ... but, oh, it is so much more than that.

The leeks and rice are like silky soulmates — you'll know what I mean when you take your first bite. And the lemon rind! Somehow, when you add a bay leaf and a piece of lemon rind to this soup, you get a soup that tastes much more complex than it actually is. The original recipe doesn't call for carrots but I like the way the orange flecks brighten up the soup.

Apparently, the first recipe was printed in 1598, although its very fun name wasn't popular until the 1700s. Also, the original version had prunes. Prunes! I could actually see them working here but I haven't tried them yet. I'll let you know.

Now, in terms of how you do the chicken, you have two options. You may start with a couple of chicken breasts and poach them in the broth while the soup cooks. Then you pull them out, cut them up, and throw them back in.

Or, you may start with the best invention in the grocery story: the rotisserie chicken. In that case, cut out little chunks and add them near the end. Either way, this is easy. And very, very comforting.

one year ago: old-fashioned scottish shortbread
two years ago: kimchi soup
three years ago: cheesecake in a jar with passion fruit sauce


cock-a-leekie soup
adapted from canadian living
serves 4 — 5

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. butter
3 c. leeks, sliced
1 1/2 c. carrots, chopped
9 c. chicken stock
1 c. long-grain white rice, like jasmine or basmati
3 strips of lemon rind
2 bay leaves
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (raw or cooked)
salt and pepper
3 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Warm a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the oil and butter, then stir in the leeks and carrots. Throw in a bit of salt. Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until leeks are soft.

Add stock, rice, lemon rind and bay leaf. If using raw chicken breast, throw in now. Bring to a boil. Simmer for about 18 to 20 minutes until rice is tender.

Remove the lemon rind and bay leaf. If you poached the chicken breast, remove it now and cut into small chunks. Add chicken chunks to the soup and heat up again.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in parsley. Serve.