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Cock-a-leekie soup with prunes

Scottish Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Enjoy a taste of the Highlands with this delicious Cock-a-Leekie soup! It's a traditional Scottish dish rich with chicken and leeks. It's the perfect hearty meal with an adorable name!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 45 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Scottish
Servings 6 people


  • Large stock pot


  • 3 lbs chicken can use a small whole chicken or leg quarters as I did
  • 2 leeks top green part and tender white parts will be used separately in this recipe
  • 1 carrot cut up into a few large pieces
  • 1 onion cut up into ½ or ¼
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½-3/4 cup barley used to thicken the soup; may sub rice, or omit this entirely (this is optional)
  • small handful prunes cut up or julienned to garnish!
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • ¼ ts mace
  • ¼ ts cayenne pepper


  • Wash the chicken, and place it in a large stock pot. Add just enough water to cover, and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the top.
    Chicken and water in a stockpot and skimming off scum from the chicken with a utensil
  • Then add onion, carrot, bay leaf, and the green parts (top tough parts roughly chopped into fairly large pieces) of the leeks to the chicken and water. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 2 hrs.
    Chicken, leeks, carrot, onion and bay leaf in a large stock pot filled with water
  • After 2 hrs, remove the chicken and vegetables from the stock pot, leaving only the broth. Add the barley (if using) and cook in the broth for the amount of time per package directions. PLEASE NOTE: refer to the package directions when cooking the barley. You may need to bring the broth back to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer until the barley is entirely cooked. I am assuming cooking time for your barley may range from 15-45 minutes.
  • Add the tender white parts of the leeks (cut into rounds as in the photo) for the last 15 minutes of cooking. At this time add the cayenne pepper and mace. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference by adding salt and/or pepper.
    Chicken broth with chopped up leeks in a large stock pot
  • In the meantime, remove the chicken from the bones. Add to soup bowls, then ladle the hot soup over the chicken. Garnish with prunes and ENJOY!
    Cock-a-leekie soup with prunes


I found the addition of mace to give the soup a complex taste of nutmeg and really enjoyed this spice!  However it may not be for everyone so feel free to omit the mace if you don't have it or it's not to your liking.  
You will most likely have extra chicken left over so this can be enjoyed at another meal!  This is a bonus!  :-)
The prunes give a hint of sweetness to the dish.  It's my understanding that Cock-a-Leekie is often served without prunes, but I highly recommend including them!
Enjoy this taste of Scotland!!  
Keyword Chicken and leek soup, Soup
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