Rating: 5 stars 4.8
12 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 10
  • 4 star values: 2
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0

It may take a few hours to make this famous Scottish soup but there's really not much to it other than some chopping and simmering. It's one of the world's best chicken soups! Top with freshly ground black pepper and chopped fresh chives.

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Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

prep:
30 mins
cook:
3 hrs 40 mins
total:
4 hrs 10 mins
Servings:
6
Yield:
6 large bowls
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So Good, It's the National Soup of Scotland

This amazing Scottish chicken soup is probably best known for its highly entertaining name, but it's so much more than that. Thanks to copious amounts of leeks, and a you'll-never-guess-it secret ingredient, this is one of the most savory and delicious soups you will ever taste. I mean they wouldn't just pick any old soup to be the national soup of Scotland, would they?

In case you're not that familiar with leeks, they feature a very high glutamate content, which translates to tons of savory goodness. And when you combine that with a rich, freshly made chicken broth, it creates a soup way beyond satisfying. Plus, thanks to a few dried plums, or as people over 40 call them, "prunes," this soup has a subtle, semi-mysterious sweetness in the background that really brings everything together.

If you have the time, I highly recommend adding the bones and scraps back into the simmering broth after you've picked the meat. After simmering the whole chicken until it's cooked, the broth will be delicious, but there's still a good amount of flavor left in the bones, most of which will be released after another hour in the broth. Either way, I really do hope you give this Cock-a-Leekie soup a try soon. Enjoy!

White bowl full of chicken, rice, and leek soup
Scottish Cock-a-Leekie Soup
| Credit: Chef John

Ingredients

6
Original recipe yields 6 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Cut off the leek tops (the dark green, fibrous parts) and wash well. Set aside the leek bottoms.

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  • Put clean leak tops in the bottom of a large pot. Place chicken on top and add bay leaf, garlic, dried plums, and 3 quarts water. Set over high heat until it starts to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low or low and simmer gently, occasionally pushing the chicken under the liquid with tongs, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, prepare leek bottoms by trimming off the root ends and slicing them in half lengthwise. Turn leeks and cut crosswise into ½-inch slices. Transfer to a large bowl and fill with cold water so leeks are floating. Toss with your hands to loosen dirt. Grab leeks with your hands, shake gently to remove water, and transfer to another bowl. Place in the refrigerator until needed.

  • Carefully lift chicken with two forks, let liquid drain from the cavity, and place it in a bowl. Separate meat from skin and bones. Tear meat into bite-sized pieces put in the refrigerator until needed.

  • Place skin and bones back into the pot and gently simmer for 1 more hour.

  • Set a colander in a bowl. Use a skimmer spoon to transfer all solids from the broth to the colander. Discard solids and transfer any broth back to the pot.

  • Add half of the sliced leeks to the pot with salt, pepper, and rice. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, skimming some fat off if you want and adding more water if it's reducing down too much.

  • Add remaining sliced leeks, chicken, and thyme. Simmer over medium-low for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve.

Chef's Notes:

Make sure you wash your leeks thoroughly to remove all dirt and sand.

If you don't have the extra hour to simmer the bones and skin in the broth, just skip Step 5 and go directly to Step 6.

You can use barley, oats, or even potatoes in place of rice, or you can skip it altogether, although I think this soup is better with a little bit of body.

If you want a thinner soup, don't add all the chicken. Save some for another use.

Editor's Note:

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the chicken skin, which will not be consumed.

Nutrition Facts

810 calories; fat 46.2g; cholesterol 227mg; sodium 1224.8mg; carbohydrates 37g; protein 59.9g. Full Nutrition
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