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Cullen Skink – Scottish Fish Soup Recipe

2015/01/30 by Varga László

Cullen Skink - Scottish Fish Soup 9

Cullen Sink is a fish soup from North East coast of Scotland, from the fishing village of Cullen – hence its name, skink is a local word in Scots for soup.

The recipe’s main ingredients are smoked fish (haddock) and potatoes, with addition of milk and butter for its creaminess.  Its somewhat similar to the American chowder and the French bisque.

I came across Cullen Skink by watching Heston Blumenthal’s – In Search of Perfection – The Fish Pie Episode. He goes to Scotland in search for ingredients and tastes this wonderful creamy soup.

Next day, on Sunday evening some friends came over and because of the cold weather from outside I wanted to cook something hearty – a soup or a stew. I had the Cullen Skink in my mind for a whole day and decided to cook it. It was a very good choice, all my friends liked it and one of them, Anca, almost literally licked the pot.

Because she loves fish dishes and specially sops I promised her to cook soon some other fish dish, maybe Hungarian – Halászlé, maybe Italian – Acqua pazza or Brodetto, perhaps some Asian fish soup.

Although the original recipe had smoked haddock, I had to replace it with smoked mackerel, not being to find haddock in time.

So here is my recipe:

Ingredients (6 servings):

  • 500 g of smoked haddock – I used smoked mackerelCullen Skink - Scottish Fish Soup 1
  • 500 g potatoes
  • butter
  • 3 small onions
  • 750 ml full fat (whole) milk
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 green onion

Preparation method:

  1. Peel and dice the potatoes into 1 cm cubes.Cullen Skink - Scottish Fish Soup 2
  2. Cook them until soft then mash them and set aside.
  3. Place the smoked fish in a pot, add the bay leaves and enough milk to cover the fish.Cullen Skink - Scottish Fish Soup 4
  4. Bring it to boil and poach the fish over low heat for about 8-10 minutes.
  5. Remove the fish from the milk. Carefully flake the fish removing all the bones and skins.
  6. Slice thinly the onions. Cullen Skink - Scottish Fish Soup 5
  7. Melt the butter in a pan and add the onions. Sweat the onions over medium low heat for about 10 minutes, without browning them.Cullen Skink - Scottish Fish Soup 6
  8. From time to time, add some cooking water from the potatoes to prevent the onions from caramelizing.
  9. Add the mashed potatoes and the milk from the fish pot.
  10. Bring to boil and add if needed some milk until the desired consistency/creaminess.
  11. Add the fish flakes, stir gently and season to taste with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
  12. Serve immediately while still hot, garnished with sliced green onions.Cullen Skink - Scottish Fish Soup 8 Cullen Skink - Scottish Fish Soup 7

2 Comments »

  1. partyhead says:

    a perfect dish for the winter,its healthy and tasty.
    Full of goodness to keep you warm for your outside partys.

  2. paizley says:

    I smoked 1.36kg of whiting overnight…about 14 hours. Can’t wait to make this. Will also make some fish dip. looking forward to it. Thanks!!!!! It’s hard to find smoked fish of any quality where I live in New Mexico, US so I just smoke my own.

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