Traditional Cullen Skink is a classic Scottish dish. It's a thick soup or chowder but defintely a meal in itself and real comfort food. It comes from the Scottish town of Cullen in Moray on the north east coast of Scotland. Made from smoked haddock, leeks and potatoes, this version is lovely and thick. I like to put half the soup through a blender to make it really nice and thick. It's a great dish to serve for dinner in autumn and winter as it's really hearty and warming. If you enjoy this recipe, you might also like Smoked Haddock and Prawn Chowder
What to serve with Cullen Skink
Traditionally, Cullen Skink is served with freshly baked crusty bread and some chopped chives or parsley. This is all you need as the soup already contains fish, potato and vegetables.
Where does the name Skink come from?
The name 'Skink' origianally came from a local Scottish stew made from shin of beef. When beef became scarce, people started eating a lot more Smoked haddock, which was readily available. The name 'Skink' however stuck and has for a long time been used as the name of this dish.
What can I use instead of Smoked Haddock?
If you can't find smoked haddock, you can substitute another smoked fish such as smoked cod or Basa. Smoked Basa is widely available and is often cheaper than Smoked Haddock.
When shopping for fish, look for the Marine Stewardship Council logo. This label tells us that the fish has been sourced responsibly. The Marine Stewardship Council constantly monitors fish stocks in an effort to help preserve fish stocks for future generations. The Good Fish Guide will give you the latest information on fish stocks.
As always, try to buy vegetables loose without any plastic. If you need to, you can take your own re-usable bags for vegetables to the shop. Buying from local sources will reduce the carbon footprint as well as help support your local economy.
Storing and Reheating Cullen Skink
You can keep the Cullen Skink in the fridge for up to 2 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. When re-heating the soup, be careful not to let it boil as the milk may separate. Keep it on a simmer. If it seems too thick, you can add a little milk.
Traditional Cullen Skink. A Meal in a Bowl
- 500 g smoked haddock skin on, bones removed
- 1 bay leaf organic
- 2 tbsp olive oil organic, fairtrade
- 1 onion organic, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 leeks organic, washed sliced 1cm slices
- 1 dash salt
- 1 dash black pepper organic, fairtrade, freshly ground
- 500 g potatoes organic, peeled diced 1cm chunks
- 500 ml milk organic
- 4 tsp fresh parsley organic, chopped, (optional)
- 4 crusty bread rolls to serve (optional)
- Put the haddock into a large pan and cover with cold water. Add the bay leaf and gently bring it to the boil. Once it is boiling, the fish should be cooked. Check the fish, give it another minute if necessary. Transfer the fish to a plate to cool down, take the pan off the heat but keep the water.
- Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a second large pan with the onion and leeks and gently fry for 5 minutes over a low-medium heat until they are softened. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
- Add the potato chunks and 500ml of the haddock water, with the bay leaf, and simmer for about 10 minutes until the potato is tender. Remove the bay leaf when the potato is cooked.
- Remove the skin from the haddock and flake it into chunks.
- You now need to mash together half the haddock with half the potato, leek and onion mixture in order to thicken the soup, so either transfer half to a food processor and blitz it or mash it together in the pan.
- Put everything into the large pan and add the milk. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and bring back to a simmer. Try not to let it boil as the milk may separate. Serve with chopped parsley sprinkled over the top of each portion and warm crusty bread.