Cock-a-leekie with dates and croques monsieurs

Cock-a-leekie with dates and croques monsieurs

By
From
New Middle Eastern Food
Serves
6
Photographer
Mark Roper

Let’s be honest, there’s nothing remotely middle eastern about Scotland’s favourite soup! Although he turned his nose up at the idea of the prunes, which feature in the original, Greg did like the idea of popping dried fruit into a savoury soup — it’s a theme that is popular all around the middle east and in North Africa. After a few days mulling it over, he came up with the following wonderfully fragrant soup, which uses fresh dates to add little nuggets of toffee sweetness.

The fried cheese sandwiches are also delicious. If you have a sandwich maker, then the accompanying croques monsieurs are simple to make. Otherwise you can fry them for a lovely rich toasty crust.

Soup

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
50ml olive oil
4 leeks, shredded, white part only
100ml dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
6 fresh dates, pitted and diced
1.5 litres good-quality chicken stock
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
edible pansies, (optional)
thin rounds small leek, crisply fried, to garnish

Croques monsieurs

Quantity Ingredient
softened butter
12 slices white bread, crusts removed
dijon mustard
6 slices good-quality leg ham
250g grated gruyere cheese
50g unsalted butter
50ml olive oil

Method

  1. To make the soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan and lightly sauté the leeks for a few minutes until they soften. Increase the heat and add the sherry, then let it all bubble away for a minute or two. Stir in the spices, salt and pepper and the dates. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer very gently for 10–15 minutes, or until the leeks are nice and tender and the dates and spices have infused their sweetness to the soup.
  2. Towards the end of the cooking time, make the croques monsieurs. Butter the bread and spread with mustard. Lay on the ham and plenty of cheese and press the top slice of bread on firmly. Melt the butter and oil together in a frying pan and fry the sandwiches on both sides until they are golden brown.
  3. When ready to serve, taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle with parsley, edible pansies, if using, and crisp fried leeks. Serve with the croques monsieurs.
Tags:
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Middle
Eastern
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