Whole chicken and leek soup

Whole chicken and leek soup

Margaret Fulton Favourites
Tanya Zouev and Armelle Habib

Like most Scots, I take the making of soup very seriously. Cock-a-leekie, or whole chicken and leek soup, is a close relative of the famous Jewish chicken soup — that wonderfully comforting cure-all otherwise known as ‘Jewish penicillin’.

In the Scottish version, rice or barley is sometimes substituted for potatoes, and while the dish is almost always made with an older bird — what we call a ‘boiler’ — for best results spend a little extra and get an organic, free-range one.


Quantity Ingredient
1 size 15 chicken water
or Chicken stock
1 onion, peeled
1 carrot, cut into chunks
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 leeks, trimmed, washed, then cut into thick slices
2 tablespoon rice, peeled and diced
or 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup broken egg noodles, (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. Wash the chicken inside and out. Place in a large saucepan with enough water or chicken stock to cover. Add the onion, bring to the boil, skim the surface and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the carrot and celery to the soup together with the leeks, and the rice or potatoes. Season with salt.
  2. Simmer a further 15 minutes until tender, adding the noodles for the last 10 minutes, if using. Remove the chicken, draining well. Remove the wing joints and skin, and cut the flesh into bite-size pieces from the bones. Return the chicken flesh to the saucepan. Remove the onion and discard. Check the broth for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.
  3. Ladle into large soup bowls. Garnish with parsley and season with a good grinding of pepper. Serve with crusty bread if you like.


  • Keep the skin, bones and carcass of the chicken to make a second stock; it won’t be as rich as the first, but is well worth making. Add these trimmings to any leftover stock with more water to cover and cook for an hour or so before straining.
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