Hearty soups. Coock-a-leekie

This is another substantial Scottish soup suitable for a family meal. Not all the chicken meat is used in the final soup. After cooking, breast meat can be saved and used for a salad or another dish. For maximum economy, a small proportion - about 75 g [3 oz] - of chicken skin can be included in the soup, but only use the thinnest and whitest skin and chop it into strips smaller than a matchstick. prunes are traditionally served in the, dish and add an unusual element to a white soup. Include s;me of the green part of the leeks to add welcome colour to this soup. .

- 1.8 kg [4 Ib] boiling fowl
- 12 large prunes
- 1.4 kg [3 Ib] leeks
- 2 celery stalks
- bouquet garni
- salt and pepper

1. Put the prunes in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil.

2. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid and set aside until cold.

3. Place the chicken in a large flameproof casserole or saucepan and add 2.2 L [4 pt] cold water. Use more water if necessary because the chicken should be completely covered.

4. Place the pan over a moderately high heat and bring to boil.

5. Using a flat skimmer or perforated spoon, skim off any scum that rises to the surface.

6. Reduce heat, cover the pan with a well-fitting lid and simmer for an hour.

7. Meanwhile, wash and prepare the vegetables. Retaining 5cm [2"] of the green stem cut the leeks into 2.5cm [1"] lengths. Cut the celery into 12 mm [½"] lengths.

8. When the hour is up, add the vegetables and bouquet garni to the pan.

9. Half cover the pan with a lid and simmer for a further 50 minutes.

10. Drain the prunes, slit them open and discard stones.

11. Add the prunes to the pan. Half cover in with the lid and continue simmering for 10 minutes or until the chicken is well cooked and falls easily from the bones. You can test this by lifting the chicken from the pan. If a leg joint is easily pulled off the body, the chicken is ready and will be easy to dismember.

12. Turn the heat off and lift the chicken out of the pan on to a plate.

13. When the chicken has cooled a little, skin and dismembers it using your hands.

14 Discard the bones and all the skin except the best-looking bit over the breast.

15. set the breast meat aside to use in another dish, and the leg meat, too, if you wish.

16.Cut the remaining pieces of meat into bite-sized pieces.

17. Roll the breast skin tightly and cut into thin slivers with scissors.

18. Using absorbent kitchen paper or a slice of bread remove surface fat from the soup. Remove and discard the bouquet garni.

19. Add the bit-sized pieces of chicken and slivers of breast skin to the pan.

20. Reheat gently. Check seasoning and serve.
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