We got home from Singapore at midday on Thursday – after flying since just after midnight that morning. The whole just after midnight flight thing really did my head in – not just because 00:45 is a ludicrous time to be getting on a plane and for the crew to be serving supper, but the number of times I had to check that flights and hotels were lined up was ridiculous. The idea of checking out of our hotel on Wednesday and flying out on what was technically Thursday was almost too much for my poor addled brain to deal with – which was why I booked the car in at the airport parking until Friday and ordered my duty free for collection on Friday too.
Then there’s the flight itself. We were lucky and scored exit row seats so had plenty of legroom but I still was unable to sleep – I never do on planes. As a result, by 9pm Thursday night, I’d been awake since 6am Wednesday morning. Ugh. It is, of course, a first world problem and something that despite my complaints isn’t sufficient to stop me from travelling.
Anyways, despite a good sleep last night I woke on Friday morning a tad worse for wear and with my body clock still on Singapore time. My feet were still puffy and my ankles still cankles (too much information?) plus hubby has brought a head cold home with him that I really can’t afford to catch.
Fighting off jet lag, a head cold and an attack of the blahs calls for one thing – chicken soup.
Everyone has a favourite chicken soup and while I call mine cock-a-leekie, it’s really not, mainly because I don’t add prunes. Not only do I dislike them, but also because I think they’re unnecessary. They do add a sweetness to the end product though, so feel free to add a handful if you like.
The Scots would traditionally have used an “auld boiling fowl” – something which isn’t available at my local supermarket – but many recipes I found used chicken carcass and chicken wings which are roasted before they’re boiled to give a deeper flavour. To be honest I really couldn’t be faffed with all of that. I find that the flavour you get from a good free-range chicken is absolutely fine plus you get leftover meat for something else. If you want to keep the cost right down or if you’re just making soup for four chicken drumsticks will do the job perfectly well.
Traditionally cock-a-leekie is simple on the veg – leeks and carrot are pretty much it – but I wanted extra veg because I saw some nice parsnips and turnip at the supermarket and because they’re vaguely Scottish veg. You know, tatties and neeps?
As for the carbs, some recipes use oatmeal to thicken, and others use rice. I used a potato and barley – somehow barley sounds like it should be more Scottish than rice is.
Anyways, here’s the recipe. I always make a huge batch of soup so I can freeze the leftovers for lunches.
What you need
- 1 whole free-range chicken
- 2 leeks – the green tops roughly chopped, the white halved and sliced finely
- 4 carrots – 2 roughly chopped, and 2 finely diced
- 1 potato – diced finely
- 1 parsnip – diced finely
- 1 turnip – diced finely
- 2 bay leaves
- About 200g barley
- Seasoning to taste
What you do with it
- Put your chicken, the green leek tops, the carrots that you’ve roughly chopped and a couple of bay leaves into a large soup pot and cover with cold water.
- Bring to the boil and skim off any impurities – the leek tops will help catch this so it’s okay if some of them are skimmed out at the same time as the gunky bits.
- Pop the lid on, reduce the heat to low, and let it all simmer happily for about an hour.
- Once the hour is up, take the chicken out. You can strip the meat and shred it once it’s cool enough to handle. Some of it you’ll use in the soup and the rest can be properly stored for another meal.
- Scoop out the carrots, leek tops and bay leaves and discard these. You’ll now be left with a gorgeous smelling stock.
- Put all your diced and sliced veg and the barley into your stock. Bring it back to the boil, pop the lid on and reduce to a simmer for around 40 minutes until the veg and the barley is soft.
- Take some of your shredded chicken and put it in the bottom of each of your bowls. If you did want to add prunes, you could add a few roughly chopped at this point.
- Pour the soup over the chicken, making sure that you get good ladlefuls of the veg and barley.