Cock-A-Leekie Soup: A Perfect Fall Recipe

Cock-A-Leekie Soup Cover

Cock-A-Leekie Soup is a Scottish soup dish of leeks and chicken stock, classically thickened with barley, and is perfect for fall. It is a peasant dish with many regional variations, some which go back as far as the 16th century. The original recipe added prunes during cooking, and traditionalists still garnish with a julienne of prunes (sometimes soaked in scotch for the full effect). I omitted the prunes altogether because we don’t really like them, although my husband was willing to try for the scotch.

I first discovered Cock-A-Leekie Soup at a pre-1800 early frontier encampment we visited at a festival. I am intrigued with outdoor and cast iron cooking (and it is primarily what I use at home) and watched one of the re-enactors cooking this soup for her family. I asked her about it and she told me what it was called and the recipe. I adapted it from her recipe, some online finds (listed below) and of course, added my own touch based on my tastes (as I believe you should in cooking). This is a rustic dish so don’t get caught up in perfect measurements or precise cutting. It’s a perfect fall recipe that is really satisfying, easy to cook and makes plenty of leftovers – you don’t want to miss out!

Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Prep time: About 30 minutes

Cook time: About 2 hours

Total time to make: About 2 hours, 30 minutes

What You Need:

  • One whole chicken cut up (I buy mine like that, but you could use any type of chicken you wanted/have on hand)
  • 6-7 leeks, cut lengthwise and then into pieces/chunks (I only used the white/light green parts at the bottom of the stalk, see below if you need detailed cutting instructions)
  • 4-6 carrots total; 4 or 5 peeled and cut into chunks/strips; 1 unpeeled carrot
  • 1 onion, peeled, cut in half
  • 3 quarts chicken broth or stock (2 quarts are necessary for the soup, I like a 3rd quart to make it more brothy and for leftovers)
  • 1 cup white rice (you could use any kind of rice you wanted)
  • Water equivalent to make 1 cup rice (found on the rice packaging, usually a cup or so)
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, pre-sliced or cut into quarters/slices
  • Spices (use your imagination on what you add and the amounts, according to what you like or don’t like!):
    • A pinch of Garlic powder
    • Some Oregano
    • Some Thyme
    • A bit of Salt
    • A pinch of Black pepper
    • Some Sweet Curry Powder
    • A dash of Celery Salt
  • 3-4 Bay Leaves
  • Parsley, a handful fresh, roughly chopped
  • Celery leaves, a handful fresh, roughly chopped

What You Do:

  • Pour 2 quarts of stock into a large stock pot
  • Lightly season chicken (with skin and bones) with salt and black pepper.
  • Place chicken in pot with whole, unpeeled carrot, half of the onion and bay leaves (you can also place the chicken parts in the pot if they came with the chicken)
  • Cover the pot and simmer gently for 1 hour or until the chicken is falling off the bone

(While the chicken is cooking)

  • Cut leeks, rinse well in a colander or strainer and set aside (discard tops, see below for cutting instructions, if needed)
  • Peel and chop carrots and set aside
  • Chop/slice mushrooms if needed and set aside
  • Chop parsley and celery leaves and set aside
  • Mix dry spices in a small bowl and set aside

(After the chicken is cooked through)

  • Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool
  • Remove the vegetables, other chicken parts, bay leaves and discard
  • Strain the stock if needed and return to pot
  • Add rice to broth and equivalent of water needed to cook rice (found on rice package or about a cup)
  • Add the leeks, carrots, mushrooms, herbs and spices to the pot (except fresh parsley and celery leaves); stir, bring to a simmer and cover.
  • While the vegetables continue to cook, de-bone chicken and remove skins, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Add cut up chicken pieces to pot of broth, rice and vegetables
  • Cook all ingredients for another 30-45 minutes at a simmer, covered, until vegetables are really tender
  • In the last few minutes, add fresh parsley and celery leaves to the pot, as well as any extra broth you may desire; stir to heat through
  • Ladle into bowls and serve hot!

Please note: Due to the rice in the soup, you may need to add more broth prior to re-heating leftovers

Additional recipes for Cock-A-Leekie Soup/Resources:

Tell me about you. Have you tried Cock-A-Leekie Soup? Is a favorite for your family? What variations do you add (or subtract) to make it your own? Did you enjoy this recipe?

Until the next mile marker,

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Weigh-In Wednesday: Week 20

WIW graphic for post
Weigh-In Wednesday Weekly Stats

Weight Watchers Week Number: 20

Lbs Lost this Week: + 2.6

Lbs Lost Total: – 12.2

WW Stars Earned this Week: None

Food of the Week

Vegetables of the Vine

I am excited to say I made an effort to increase the amount of vegetables I ate this week and have conquered my fear of how-to-cook-eggplant! I made this old Native American Recipe (I found it online, but am not sure where) called Baked Vegetables of the Vine and it was sooo good!

How to Make It (a.k.a Be Creative, I adapted this recipe to suite my tastes)

You Need:

(Takes about 15 minutes to prep)

2 onions, peeled and chopped (I left mine in rings)
2 gloves garlic, peeled and crushed (I buy mine that way in Olive Oil)
2 cucumbers, zucchini and/or yellow squash, washed and sliced (I used a little of each, cut into rings)
1 large eggplant, washed and sliced (I cut mine into rings)
2 green, yellow, red or orange bell peppers, washed, cored and cut (I used red and green and cut into rings as well)
2 fresh from the vine tomatoes, washed, cored and sliced (again, rings)
Olive or other oil of your choosing
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste (I use fresh cracked peppercorns)
Oregano, to taste
Cumin, to taste
Sage, to taste
Dill, to taste
Garlic Powder, to taste


(Takes about 1 hour, 15 minutes to cook)

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Mix all dry spices (enough to lightly cover all the vegetables) in a large bowl and set aside
Pour some of the oil and crushed garlic in the bottom of a large (enough to hold your vegetables) baking pan or casserole dish
Spread oil and garlic to coat bottom of pan
Place all of the sliced onions on top of the garlic and oil, in one flat layer
Sprinkle onions with dry seasonings and a touch of oil
Repeat with each vegetable (except the tomato), ensuring each vegetable has it’s own layer
Season and oil between each layer
Cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour
After 1 hour, remove vegetables and add sliced tomatoes to the top layer
Return to oven uncovered and bake for 15 minutes more
Serve hot and enjoy!

Activity of the Week

I did not run Pretty Muddy Central Ohio. I did not think it would be a good idea considering I have not run since I hurt my ankle several weeks ago now. I need to get back on track with something, though.

Personal Weight Loss Goals (crossed off when reached)

I want to lose…

10 lbs
20 lbs
30 lbs
35 lbs
40 lbs
45 lbs
50 lbs
55 lbs
60 lbs
65 lbs
70 lbs

Personal Fitness Goals (crossed off when reached)

I will…

Run a 5K  Read all about it here.
Run a Quarter Marathon or 10K
Run a Mud/Obstacle Race
Run a Half Marathon
Start Strength Training (again)
Backpack (more)
Start Biking


I’m pretty disappointed this week, to be honest. I worked hard at keeping track of what I ate and it was much healthier. We didn’t eat out and I actually went to the grocery store with a planned out menu and left $120 later to avoid mindless eating on the fly! I especially paid attention to portion sizes and increased the amount of vegetables I ate. I even felt like I lost weight. I was actually feeling great until I got on the scale.

Reader’s Recap

Nothing to share since last Wednesday. Lately I feel like I am in a blogging slump (not to mention running, eating and weight-loss slump), but I am hoping Blog School helps with that! I am working on my first assignment this week and am already loving all of the ladies I have met through the community group.

Photo Recap

Cherokee Chicken

On Monday I made Cherokee Chicken, which consisted of fresh chicken breasts, onions, green peppers and cranberries. I wasn’t sure about the combination of flavors, but it was also very good. My husband ate his with Butternut Squash risotto. I skipped the risotto and had a peach after dinner.

Question of the Week

What vegetable to you avoid cooking because you don’t know how?

Until the next mile marker,

I don’t have famous stir-fry anymore (a.k.a. My Gluten-Free Shopping Nightmare)

As you may know, I recently gave up gluten, corn, soy, nuts, chicken, avocados  bananas, celery, figs, kiwis, seeds, chips, flax and humus under doctor direction to help my auto-immune, blood and stomach problems. If it helps with well, feeling better and weight issues too, that would just be icing on the cake for me!

I attended a seminar by Dr. Aukerman last week with my friend Judi to learn more about gluten and how it is in what seems like all of the food and especially grains that we eat.

I drew this sketch during the seminar (yes, I actually did excel in school) indicating we had jumped down the very long and seemingly endless rabbit hole. Judi added we were in the fiery pit of Hell:

She has never been more right, as a matter of fact. All for the greater good, right?

I began my adventures in gluten-free shopping yesterday (and, I admit I’m not going to be able to shop at regular grocery stores anymore most likely except for meat, dairy and produce) and it was entirely more stressful than it needed to be. There is gluten in just about everything. Again, there is gluten in just about everything. Throw in no nuts, corn or soy (especially when you are trying to make a stir-fry and you’ve got some digging to do).

None of these pre-made sauces:

No chicken broths (because of the chicken and gluten) or vegetable broths (because of the gluten):

I made a roast on Tuesday night and couldn’t figure out for the life of me what I ate to upset my stomach to the extent that it was. Gluten in the beef broth I put in the slow-cooker. I had no idea.

Asian cooking is my favorite. Little did I know this new way of eating was about to effect that. Majorly.

And, I even stocked up on some gluten-free cookbooks over the weekend.

The stir-fry recipes contain chicken, corn, soy and broth as in The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods by Bette Hagman (Why aren’t they specifying gluten-free soy sauce as well as broth?!):

Thank you gluten-free girl and the chef by shauna james ahern & daniel ahern  – a love story and 100 recipes. You may have saved my Asian cooking so far now that I have discovered your gluten-free stock recipe that I can make using beef, vegetables or pork:

But still, if every shopping trip is going to go like this…I wish someone would just make a pill I could take that has all the nutritional elements I need (or don’t need) and take that 4-6 times a day and be done with it.

I already stocked up on vitamins – D, B75, Zinc, Magnesium, Cinnamon, Fish Oil, Calcium and who knows what else:

I sent Judi this text from the parking lot, nearly in tears:

Don’t tell me if there is gluten in Cadbury Eggs. I can’t say no to them, seeing as this made it home with me from the store:

Although, I did leave these limited-edition Pringles there. Has anyone tried them? Are they good? It was very temping, but the egg wins every time.

(And no, I did not put Tabasco on my egg as the picture may suggest, but don’t think that has never crossed my mind before!)

So, there I was with all the ingredients for a fabulous stir-fry and no sauce whatsoever. It was one of my running friends that helped me out with the simplest of suggestions:

Thank you, Dawn!

I still have some experimenting to do, but here is my gluten-free stir-fry sauce. Was it good? My idea of good is apparently sugary sauces filled with gluten. It certainly wasn’t famous. This will take some getting used to. It was not bad at all, though, just different than what I am used to and thinner than what you buy in the store. My husband said it was good, but maybe he was tired of all the tears?

Gluten (and soy and nut and corn)-Free Stir Fry Sauce

  • 1 cup 100% Pineapple Juice (not from concentrate)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (or to taste)
  • Chinese Five Spice (to taste, you can also add extra ginger if you want)
  • A splash of Thai Fish Oil (I read it can be used as a substitute for soy sauce in Asian cooking)
  • A few drops of Rice Vinegar (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Brown Sugar (or to taste, not packed)
  • 2 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste)

It looked like this when it was done (I did not need the whole cup of sauce either):

I also literally added two drops of sesame oil to the veggies when cooking them to give them some flavor. It is very strong. Sesame is a seed so I would use this sparingly if you are eating like I am.

All I can say is, there are not any leftovers today!

Do you have any gluten-free sauce recipes you would like to share? Tell me in the comments!

Until the next mile marker,

What I’m Longing For

The truth is, we are far too consumed by our lives to pay attention to the things that really matter. We get wrapped up in our cell phones, televisions  emails, Facebook, blogs and Twitter to the point that we can’t even fathom, “What would I do without these things?” The truth is, we don’t really need them like we think I do. And I, for one, often find myself longing for a simpler time.

Apple Butter Festival 2012

It’s fall, one of my favorite times of the year, and I have spent the past two weekends searching for simplicity. I need to get away from the noise and static of everyday life and reconnect with not only nature, but what really matters – family, friends, nature, good company and good, whole food.

Two weeks ago, I visited the Apple Butter Festival and the Ned Moser cabin, built in the 1800’s. I have since been longing to reconnect with the simplicity of the pioneer times.

I sometimes wish I lived in a time when we cooked all of our meals over an open fire or hearth. The campfire brings people together, meals used to take longer to prepare, whole families used to join in on the cooking and whole communities used to come together to eat. No TV’s, no computers, no grabbing dinner on the go.

Early settlers drank primarily apple cider because their water was not always safe to consume. They made their cider with a press by hand from bruised and damaged apples. They drank from deerskin cups, which they crafted themselves.

There were no indoor restrooms.

And they kept all of their vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses cool by storing them in an underground root cellar. These are all things the early settlers would have built on their own, with their own two hands. They had to survive on the land with the tools and resources they could find or make on their own. We have lost so much of that today. We want everything fast, easy, convenient, cheap – and it is taking a massive toll on our health to harvest and eat highly processed, highly contaminated foods.

But there was warmth and comfort and a true sense of community and family. This place felt like home, even though I had never set foot inside the cabin before.

Each board and nail was carefully constructed by hand – not like today where you can order a house and practically have it mailed to you – to look like every other house on the block. Not this cabin-

People often say to me, “Yeah right, you couldn’t live like that unless you really had to.”  But, I disagree. I have always felt a strong connection to the simplicity of a time that has long since come and gone. I have always loved to touch, feel and be in the presence of old things – whether they be structures or items or works of art. Sometimes I feel as if I belong there rather than here. We all came from these times, why do we seem to forget them so quickly? Sure, I would miss some modern conveniences like cell phones or computers, but what do they matter, really? Sometimes I feel like a part of me still belongs in the past. Can you imagine looking out of your home you built with your own two hands at this, everyday?

October 2012

There is so much beauty to be witnessed, even in life that has passed.

How do you feel about days gone by? Do you long for them or a simpler time? Do you ever feel the need to disconnect, unplug and decompress? Tell me in the comments!

Until the next mile marker,

Shop Jungle Jim’s for all Your Grocery Needs

Does it really matter where you buy your groceries? With multiple grocers available to most of us, we have our preferences where we choose to shop. We go to certain stores for certain items – for example, I like to get fresh meat and seafood at Giant Eagle and we get our basics from Aldi – a discounted grocer in our area. I like to get fresh produce from the farm or a farmer’s market when I can, but also like the produce section at Kroger. I like the International section at Meijer. For items we use in bulk like rice, pasta, dog food and some spices we shop at Sam’s Club.  So yes, for me it does matter where I buy my groceries.

This weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Jungle Jim’s International Market, located in Fairfield, Ohio just outside of Cincinnati. It was glorious, to say the least. I wish I lived closer than two hours away so I could shop there on a regular basis because I would! Jungle Jim’s began as a local farmer’s market in 1971 and has only grown from there. What makes Jungle Jim’s special (besides the size, variety, freshness, local fare, international selections)? Jungle Jim’s is much more than a grocery store, it’s a whole destination! There are over 200,000 square feet (that’s about six acres) of shopping space in and over 150,000 products from which to choose. You could get lost there.

But, there’s more – Jungle Jim’s also offers tours of the store, food demonstrations, cooking classes and special events like the Weekend of Fire.

The store also offers demos on a regular basis so you can try the products the offer – including produce, gluten-free, seafood, cheese and international food. They also offer gift shops, specialized boutiques (where you can find clothing, accessories and gifts) and places to eat inside the store.

So what exactly can you find at Jungle Jim’s? Prepare to be amazed.

Fresh Food

  • Produce
  • Deli Cheese
  • Bakery
  • Seafood
  • Meat
  • Olive Pit

What I loved about the Fresh Food: I love seafood and we eat it regularly in our house. The seafood department is so fresh, you can pick out live fish for dinner to take home with you. Jungle Jim’s will take care of everything for you (but, I still feel bad for the fish, I think). The produce section is second to none – they had so much variety! I also liked the reduced section where I found some great prices on produce like peppers.

Specialty Food

  • Hot Sauce
  • Gourmet Galleria (pots, pans, specialty cookware, gadgets, small appliances, etc.)
  • Natural Foods
  • Herb ‘N Jungle (herbal supplements, sports nutrition, vitamins, minerals, etc.)
  • Honey
  • Coffee Bar
  • Gift Baskets
  • Greenhouse (everything plants and growing)

What I loved about the Specialty Food: Um, if you have to ask, it is the HOT SAUCE! You can read more about that here. I have never seen a bigger hot sauce display anywhere. I was also impressed with the gigantic selection of honey, much of it locally harvested.

American Grocery Food

  • Grocery
  • Dairy
  • Frozen
  • Health and Beauty
  • Pets

What I loved about the American Grocery Food: The pets section! There was a large variety of foods, treats and products, many reasonably priced or even cheaper than my local grocers. You can even purchase natural treats for your canines there. My two got pigs’ ears, which they love. Grace didn’t even wait for me to take her picture, it was gone within a minute or two.

International Food

  • Asian
  • Indian
  • Hispanic
  • European
  • Eastern Europen
  • Middle Eastern
  • African

What I loved about the International Food: This is my favorite part of the store. I love cooking international and ethnic foods, and I can find  everything I need in this store. It is clearly labeled and easy to navigate the large aisles. I even found my favorite Asian hot sauce there – and purchased it in an extra large size (seriously, I need to buy stock in this company). Asian cooking is my favorite and there are over ten Asian countries alone represented here as well as a huge selection of Indian curries.

Beer and Wine (Food)

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Cigars
  • State Store
  • Glassware
  • Home Brewing

What I loved about Beer and Wine (Food): They have an incredibly unique selection of products here, including my newly discovered favorite Woodchuck Cider.

And, don’t forget, you can also find things like chocolate-covered insects and bacon ketchup (which they apparently sold out of before) at Jungle Jim’s.

I will be visiting Jungle Jim’s again – and possibly taking a cooler to purchase meats and dairy for my deep-freezer at home. This store has certainly become my favorite grocer!

What about you? Have you been to Jungle Jim’s? Did you like it? What do you look for in a grocery store? Tell me in the comments below?

Until the next mile marker,