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Vegan Traditional Scottish Cock-a-Leekie Soup (Tofu, Barley And Leek)

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Vegan cock-a-leekie soup is a quick, super-simple, budget-friendly recipe perfect for a tasty, every-day wholesome meal.

Serve with a chunk of crusty bread or keep it authentic with some traditional Scottish Oatcakes.

This soup is considered Scotland’s national soup and has been around since the 16th Century. Barley is a traditional ingredient but for gluten-free soups replace with rice.

Planning a vegan or plant-based Robert Burns Night (25th January) themed supper? a A bowl of this delicious soup is perfect for starters. So good!

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An enamel white bowl with blue rim full of tofu and leek soup, silver spoon in bowl, blue mug to side and blue and white stripe background.
Cock-a-leekie soup prepared with tofu. So yummy!

Quick Origins Of Scotland’s Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Cock-a-leekie soup originates all the way back to 16th century Scotland.

Although it is claimed that cock-a-leekie soup can be traced to French origins. When the French recipe for chicken and onion soup found its way over to Scotland, the Scots decided leeks were a better choice to replace the onion.

Traditionally Cock-a-leekie soup would be prepared with an old cockerel which would be deemed perfect for soup as it would need lots of simmering to tenderize.

Classic recipes for this soup often make use of economical barley, rice, or oatmeal as a means to thicken the broth. And surprisingly chopped prunes, added to each bowl or to the soup pot are a popular addition that provide sweetness and interesting texture.

Other parts of Britain have their own versions of cock-a-leekie soup including Wales and the West Country (south-western England).

Vegan Tofu-A-Leekie Soup

Vegan cock-a-leekie soup is based on the traditional cock-a-leekie soup but is a much kinder adaptation.

Tofu chunks replace the chicken and as a result evolves the name to tofu-a-leekie.

If your not too keen on tofu that’s not a problem. Any vegan meat-free chunks can be subbed. Quorn vegan pieces are especially tasty and add lots of flavour to the broth.

Alternatively a can of white creamy beans are also delicious with this soup. Cannellini, haricot, white kidney beans or butter beans are good choices.

To thicken the broth this recipe uses pearl barley. Being Scottish I grew up eating this grain and so I love adding it to recipes. Although if you like the barley can be subbed out for 1/4 cup (40-50 grams) of pinhead oatmeal/steel-cut oatmeal or about 1/2 cup (100 grams) of rice.

However, if you require a gluten-free soup then forego the barley or oatmeal. Barley is not considered gluten-free even though it is low in gluten. And oatmeal, unless certified gluten-free, is often prepared in a factory along with gluten ingredients so may not be safe for gluten-free meals.

Tofu-a-leekie soup is pleasantly flavoured with dried herbs, bay leaves and a chicken flavoured vegan stock. The result is a satisfying delicious broth perfect to dunk a chunky piece of crusty bread of oatcake.

To finish sliced green/spring onions are scattered across each serving, and a few optional teaspoons of nutritional yeast flakes adds extra flavour dimensions and savouriness. So yummy.

Garnished with sliced green/spring onions and served with a chunk of crusty bread. So tasty.

How To Prepare Vegan Cock-a-leekie Soup

Recipe Notes And FAQS

How do I store leftover cock-a-leekie soup?


Leftovers can be stored, within a covered container, in the fridge for 3 days. Or frozen for 4-6 months within a freezer safe container.

How do I reheat leftover soup?


Leftovers can be reheated by bringing to a simmer and heating for 3-4 minutes until piping hot. Extra veggie stock will likely need to be added as the barley will continue to soak up the liquid.

If the soup has been frozen, defrost completely before reheating.

Is cock-a-leekie soup gluten-free?


Yes. It is easy to prepare this soup free from gluten ingredients. Simply ensure that your vegan stock is certified gluten-free.

Barley is not considered gluten-free so sub this grain for rice or a different gluten-free grain.

What can I serve with vegan cock-a-leekie soup?


A few ideas:

* Irish soda bread (traditional wheaten bread/100% wholemeal and no fat added recipe)

* vegan traditional Scottish oatcakes

* Scottish cheesy vegan oatcakes (no oil recipe)

* 3 ingredient quick vegan dinner rolls

* your favourite crusty bread

* your favourite cracker, such as vegan friendly saltines, rice cakes

* traditional British scones, or American biscuits

* vegan grated cheese toastie/grilled cheese sandwich

* your favourite sandwiches

* scatter some tasty traditional Scottish Skirlie on top of the Vegan tofu-a-leekie soup for an even more authentic Scottish bowl of yumminess.

Can I use any substitutions?


As with any recipe it can be adapted to suit your family’s needs or contents of your fridge and pantry.

* the tofu can be replaced with vegan meat-free pieces, such as Quorn/soya chunks, soya curls. Or white beans such as cannellini, haricot, butter or white kidney beans.

* replace the pearl barley with any variety of rice, wheat grain, rye grain, quinoa, pinhead/steel-cut oatmeal. Cooking times may need adjusting depending on the grain. Leftover cooked grains are perfect as these just need adding for last 5 minutes of cooking to heat through.

* instead of spring/green onions use chopped parsley, chives or dill

* replace the onion with dried onion, about 2-3 teaspoons

* replace the dried herbs with sprigs or a small bunch of fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage or rosemary. Or a mix.

* add a sprinkle of shredded vegan cheese instead of nutritional yeast flakes

Can I add anything extra to cock-a-leekie soup?


* diced prunes are a traditional addition, try adding a few chopped prunes to each serving but only if liked!

* diced veggies can be added along with the onion such as diced carrot and celery

* add some chopped kale or other green leaves along with the leeks

* a swirl of vegan cream to serve

close up of cock-a-leekie soup with silver spoon.

An enamel white bowl with blue rim full of tofu and leek soup, silver spoon in bowl, blue mug to side and blue and white stripe background.

Vegan Cock-a-Leekie Soup (Tofu, Barley and Leek Broth)

Print Recipe
Vegan tofu-a-leekie soup is adapted from the traditional Scottish national soup cock-a-leekie.
So easy and quick to prepare, this is a wholesome soup the whole family will love.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Soup, Starter
Cuisine Scottish
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 4
Calories 239
Author Jacq

Equipment

  • Large Soup/sauce pan

Ingredients

  • 300 grams leeks about 2 medium. Sliced into thin rings.
  • 210 grams onion 1 medium, rough chopped
  • 300 grams firm tofu drained, and gently squeezed to remove excess liquid if necessary, chop into bitesize chunks. Or replace with vegan Quorn pieces, or one 400g/15oz can white beans, drained.
  • 100 grams pearl barley about ½ cup, washed
  • 2 litres vegetable stock Plus an extra 125ml (½ a cup). Use a vegan chicken flavoured stock if available.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried herbs
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or use a few sprigs of fresh thyme

To serve:

  • 4 green onions spring onions/scallions, sliced. Or replace with parsley, chopped.

Optional, to serve:

Instructions

  • Add the vegetable stock, barley, bay leaves, mixed herbs, thyme, and onion to a pan. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  • Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes with a lid loosely on the saucepan.
  • Add the chopped tofu and the sliced leeks.
    Add the extra half cup (125ml) of hot veggie stock, if you prefer a thicker soup omit the extra stock.
    Simmer for 15 minutes with the lid off the pan.
  • Remove the bay leaves and fresh thyme if used.
    Add salt and black pepper to taste (Tip: if adding yeast flakes wait until the flakes are mixed through before adding salt as the flakes season the soup and you may need to add less salt)
  • Scatter the sliced green onion over each serving or add to the soup pan before ladling soup into bowls.
    Optional: sprinkle nutritional yeast flakes over each bowl and mix through.

Notes

  •  Nutritional data is for guidance only and is not a strict analysis as ingredients vary. Data is calculated using computerized nutrition apps.
  • For a low sodium soup use a low added salt veggie stock.
  • If preferred sauté the onions in one tablespoon of oil  (or 125ml / 1/2 cup veggie stock) over a medium heat for 8 minutes, before continuing with the recipe. 
  • Use a vegan chicken flavour stock if available (link to the one I use in recipe card)
  • For a gluten-free soup choose a gluten-free veggie stock.
  • Instead of sliced spring/green onions use chopped parsley, chives or dill. 
  • Pearl barley can be subbed for rice. Adjust the cooking time for whole-grain or brown rice varieties as they may take longer to cook.
  • Tofu can be replaced with the same quantity of chicken style vegan pieces/Quorn vegan pieces or a can of white beans such as cannellini/haricot/butterbeans/white kidney beans.
  • Serve this soup with your favourite crusty bread, crackers or even savoury scones or American biscuits. 
  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, within a covered container, for 3 days.
  • Or frozen for 4-6 months, well covered within a freezer proof container. Defrost before reheating.
  • Reheat by bringing to a simmer and heat for 3-4 minutes until piping hot. Add extra veggie stock if required as the barley will continue to soak up the liquid.

Nutrition

Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 27mg | Potassium: 401mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1409IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 181mg | Iron: 5mg

More Vegan Traditional Scottish Recipes:

10 thoughts on “Vegan Traditional Scottish Cock-a-Leekie Soup (Tofu, Barley And Leek)”

  1. 5 stars
    I was intrigued by this soup and it did not disappoint! My son thought the name was hilarious (he’s 4) and everyone enjoyed this meal. Thanks for sharing!

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