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Cock-A-Leekie Soup

12 prunes soaked overnight (optional)
1 lb. leeks, trimmed and sliced
one 2.5 lb oven-ready fresh chicken
2 pints water
2 chicken stock cubes
bouquet garni (or other similar spice combination)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
cornflour to thicken (if necessary)
chopped parsley to garnish

Dissolve the stock cubes in the water and add to a large pan with the bouquet garni, chicken and leeks. Bring to the boil and remove any scum. Simmer very gently for 1-1.5 hours until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken from the pan, skin it and cut the meat into neat portions. Return to the pan. If using prunes, add now and simmer for 20 minutes. Thicken with a little cornflour mixed to a cream with water and add the parsely. Flavour improves if this dish is made the night before it is required.

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