Cullen Skink is a thick and creamy Scottish soup made with smoked haddock, onions, potatoes and cream. It’s pure comfort food and very easy to make at home.
I know I’ve been posting lots of soup recipes lately, but I can’t help it! I just don’t think you can beat a good bowl of soup in the Winter Time.
When you’re cold, tired and hungry, a bowl of thick and creamy Cullen Skink is pretty hard to beat and will fill you up for hours.
what is cullen skink?
Cullen Skink is a thick, creamy smoked fish soup from the small seaside village Cullen in Morayshire, Scotland.
The details of where the name of this creamy fish soup actually came from are a little unclear, but the name “Skink” means shin (shank) of beef – a cheap cut of meat that is used to make soups and stews.
Now obviously, there is no beef or red meat in Cullen Skink, but Cullen Fishwives had to cook with whatever seasonal produce was available – and smoked haddock – otherwise known as Finnan Haddie, was in plentiful supply. They would cook the fish in a very simple and warming broth of milk and potatoes.
There are a few variations of Cullen Skink out there, but the base ingredients always remain the same – smoked haddock, onions, potatoes and milk or cream.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is simple and delicious. If you’ve never tried Cullen Skink before, think of it as Scotland’s variation of a chowder!
One thing to remember when making Cullen Skink – if you use the best quality ingredients you can find, you really can’t go wrong.
ingredients you’ll need to make cullen skink
- 2 Undyed smoked Boneless haddock fillets
- 1 Leek, sliced finely. You don’t always find leek in Cullen Skink – it’s often onion only. Personally I like the addition of a leek, but you can just use onion if you prefer.
- 1 Onion, peeled and chopped finely
- Peeled and diced “Floury” or “Dry” Potatoes – Maris Piper and King Edward are perfect here
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Whole Milk
- Vegetable Stock
- Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Double Cream
- Chopped Fresh Chives or Parsley for garnish (optional)
how to make cullen skink
(ingredient amounts and detailed instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!)
- Soften a chopped onion and leek in a little olive oil and butter.
- Add diced potato, a bay leaf and a grinding of black pepper. Cook on a low to medium heat for a few minutes before pouring in milk and vegetable stock.
- Place 2 smoked haddock fillets on top of the vegetables and stock.
- Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the fish breaks into pieces easily when touched with a fork.
- Remove the fish and cover to keep warm. Cover the pan with a lid and continue to simmer the soup for 10 minutes, or until the potato is soft. Using a potato masher, mash some of the potatoes against the side of the pan to break them down slightly.
- Return the flaked fish to the pan and stir in a little double cream.
- Season to taste.
- Serve with a sprinkling of fresh chives. This is not traditional but a nice addition. You could also use freshly chopped parsley.
to blend or not to blend?
Some Cullen Skink recipes require the soup to be partially blended, but I prefer to keep the soup fairly chunky. If you prefer a smoother soup, you can of course blitz it down with a hand or stand blender.
This isn’t the best looking soup in the world, but the wonderful taste more than makes up for it! The smoked fish and sweet onions works beautifully with the light creaminess of the soup.
I hope you love it!
how long does cullen skink keep for?
The soup will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge. Store in an airtight container.
can you freeze cullen Skink?
Yes you can – however cream based soups can often seperate on defrosting and take on a grainy texture. If you’re planning to freeze the soup, I would hold off on adding the cream until after you’ve defrosted and reheated it.
Cullen Skink can be frozen for up to 2 months in an airtight freezer bag or container. Defrost overnight in the fridge and re-heat on a gentle heat until piping hot – if you boil the soup, you’ll risk making the fish pieces tough and rubbery.
looking for more soup recipes?
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 1/2 Tablespoon Flavourless Oil
- 1 Onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 small Leek, chopped finely
- 2 Large (around 450G in weight) Floury potatoes, peeled and diced into small pieces
- 450G Natural Dyed Smoked Boneless Haddock Fillets
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 400ml Whole Milk
- 300ml Vegetable Stock
- 3 Tablespoons Double Cream
- 1 Tablespoon Freshly chopped chives or parsley, optional
- Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and leek and cook over a low to medium heat until softened, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the diced potato, bay leaf and a few grindings of freshly ground black pepper and cook for a few minutes.
- Pour in the milk and vegetable stock and place the fish fillets on top. Slowly bring the mixture to the boil, then turn the heat right down and cook for about 5 minutes. The fish is ready when it flakes very easily when touched with a fork.
- Remove the fish from the pan (it will be very tender by now and will break into pieces) and set aside on a plate, covering to keep it warm.
- Return the soup mixture to the boil, then turn the heat right down and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Using a potato masher or fork, mash some of the potatoes into smaller pieces.
- Break the fish into chunks and return to the pan. Pour in the double cream and cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Season to taste, then pour the soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with freshly snipped chives or parsley.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 348Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 105mgSodium 588mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 3gSugar 9gProtein 29g