Macdonell Cock-a-Leekie Soup

A traditional hearty soup that hails from Scotland.

Macdonell Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Origin: Fort Wellington National Historic Site
Region: Ontario
Period: Traditional
Course: Soups and Starters

Image of Lt. Col “Red” George Macdonell Painting of Lt. Col “Red” George Macdonell
© Parks Canada

Lt. Col “Red” George Macdonell is sometimes called the “hero” of Fort Wellington. In February 1813, he led a successful attack from Prescott on Ogdensburg USA, pictured above, which helped to secure Britain’s interests along the upper St. Lawrence River for the duration of the War of 1812. The raid was unexpected, and today it is one of the most frequently recounted stories at Fort Wellington National Historic Site in Prescott, Ontario.

Macdonell’s family was originally from Leek, Scotland, where Cock-a-Leekie soup originated, so we can assume that “Red” may have enjoyed a bowl of it from time to time. Visitors to Fort Wellington can enjoy Cock-A-Leekie Soup prepared over an open fire every year on “Red George Birthday,” August 15th.

Macdonell Cock-a-Leekie Soup


  • 10 oz | 300 g chicken pieces, bone-in and skin removed
  • 2 cups | 500 ml water
  • 2 cups | 500 ml chicken stock
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp | 50 g barley
  • 7 oz | 200 g leeks, sliced (1 leek)
  • 2.5 oz | 75 g celery, chopped (1 stalk)
  • 1 bunch chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp | 10 g salt
  • 2 tsp | 10 g ground black pepper


  • In a large iron pot over a big fire, combine chicken, water, stock, onion and barley. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Remove the chicken and discard the bones; chop the meat into bite-size pieces and return to the pot. Add the leeks, celery, thyme, parsley, salt and ground pepper. Simmer for about a half hour or until the vegetables are tender.


Recipe tested by Chef David Fairbanks, Algonquin College School of Hospitality and Tourism

This traditional recipe has been adapted from the book The Scot’s Kitchen by F. Marian McNeill (1929) available at