Leeks are a hardy vegetable – once they have grown they can be harvested as needed, and can be picked when very young.
Leeks have been growing in Mesopotamia from the beginning of the second millennium; dried specimens from archaeological sites in ancient Egypt, as well as wall carvings and drawings, indicate that the leek was part of the Egyptian diet. It is written that the Emperor Nero ate a lot in a soup form – he reckoned it benefi tted his voice.
I like to use the white of the leek and a little of the green. The tops can be very finely shredded and stir-fried or can be used in stocks.
I am giving you two recipes which are great for now.
Leeks are really at their best from the autumn to now, so it does well to use them as much as possible.
Cock-a-leekie soup is often dated from the end of the 16th century, it was occasionally known as ‘Cockie Leekie.’ This soup was a wholesome celebratory dish, very popular in Scotland. This was made in a traditional way, using fruit with meat in pottages. In the medieval times they were more likely to have used onion instead of leek.
One of the other important ways it’s made,is by using an old boiling chicken – you can still get hold of an old boiler (cockerel) if you order it from your butcher, but if not an ordinary chicken will do.
This recipe is perfect because those who know me know how much I love my prunes, and as this is made with prunes it can only be good! This is a seriously simple soup, and so warming at this time of year.
✩ 2 tbsp rapeseed oil or veg oil
✩ 1 medium chicken cut into 1cm pieces
✩ 2 medium leeks cut into half cm pieces
✩ 200g smoked bacon cut into batons
✩ 3 sticks celery cut into half cm pieces
✩ 2 bay leaves
✩ 3 tbsp vermouth
✩ 2 sprigs thyme
✩ 20 stoned prunes
✩ Water to cover
✩ Salt and pepper
1. Take a large casserole dish that can sit on the heat, or a large saucepan. Add the oil, heat to a high temperature, now sauté the chicken on all sides. Put to one side.
2. Add bacon, celery, and leek, soften in the oil. Do not brown.
3. Now add the vermouth, mix well to get all the flavour.
4. Add the bay leaves, thyme and the chicken.
5. Cover with water to 2cm above the chicken line. Bring to the boil, then turn down to simmer for about one hour, or until the chicken is tender.
6. Remove the chicken, and as soon as you can touch it with your hands remove the flesh from the bones, and put back into the pot.
7. Now add the prunes, season, and cook for a further 15 minutes.
8. Check for seasoning again and then I would serve this with a chunk of soda bread. ENJOY!
✩ 450g peeled potatoes
✩ 500g cleaned and trimmed white part of leeks, so you need to buy at least 1Kg
✩ 60g butter
✩ 500ml chicken stock
✩ 300ml milk
✩ Cream to finish
✩ 1 tbsp fi nely chopped chives
✩ Salt and white pepper
1. First cut up the leeks into small pieces. In a large pan soften it in the butter for about five minutes.
2. Now add the potatoes, stock and milk, bring to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes then put it into a blender and then through a fi ne sieve.
4. Season well and add a little cream and chives to finish. If it is too thick just add a little more stock.