Philippa Davis' rich and creamy pheasant, leek and potato soup with cream and cognac is a joy best saved for the coldest days

Philippa Davis’ pheasant, leek and potato soup with cream and cognac is rich, hearty and best saved for the coldest day. It can be made smooth or chunky, depending on preference, but just remember one golden rule – always use really flavourful stock (and forget the stock cubes).

For a failsafe stock recipe that should be in every game cook’s repetoire, read the very best pheasant stock recipe. And for more soup suppers best for chilly days, follow our simple method to put a Moroccan twist on venison, read venison harira.

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Rich creamy soups are always a joy to eat on a cold day. You can purée this soup before you put the pheasant meat in but I prefer to have chunks of vegetables as it makes it more interesting to eat.

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 pheasant
  • 3 litres cold water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 40g butter
  • 2 leeks (450g approx), washed and chopped into 2cm-thick semi circles
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 400g Maris Piper potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1½cm cubes
  • 100g smoked streaky bacon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp cognac
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp chives, finely chopped

Place the pheasant and water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook for about 1½ hours or until the pheasant will easily pull off the bone.

Remove the pheasant and leave to cool before removing the skin and shredding all the meat off the bone. Strain the stock and keep for the next stage.

In a large pan on a medium heat sauté the leeks, garlic, potatoes and bacon with the bay leaves in the oil and butter for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add 1 litre of the pheasant poaching liquid, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Add the cognac and cook for a couple of minutes then take of the heat and stir in the mustard, cream and chives.

Serve hot.