Famous Scottish Fish Soup - Cullen Skink

by : May Cropley

The famous Scottish fish soup made with smoked haddock is called Cullen Skink. Scotland produces delicious fish and this famous, very rich and tasty soup recipe originates from the fishing village of Cullen, in Morayshire, in the north-east of Scotland. At one time this fish would have been cheap and plentiful, and this dish would have been served regularly. But of course with the shortages of fish in the North Sea today, it is now more expensive to buy.

The word "Skink" (which means "essence" in Gaelic) is a soup which was originally made with shin of beef (it was a sort of soup-stew) , but the main ingredients for the Cullen Skink is smoked haddock and potatoes. The traditional way of cooking it was using "Finnan Haddock", which needs to be skinned after cooking. This is a very fiddly way of making it, but the recipe below is a bit easier.

This Cullen Skink Recipe makes a filling and rich soup and although it can be a meal by itself, it makes a very unusual starter (providing your guests like fish of course). Serve it with thick slices of homemade crusty bread and unsalted butter.

Cullen Skink Recipe


A large smoked haddock (weighing around 2lb)

1 large onion, finely chopped.

2 pts pints (1200ml) milk

1 large potato chopped finely

Salt and pepper

1 bay leaf

Chopped parsley


  • Skin the haddock before cooking.

  • Place the smoked haddock with milk and bay leaf, in a large pan.

  • Poach gently for a few minutes.

  • Remove fish from pan.

  • Add onion and potato to pan and cook gently until soft.

  • When the vegetables are soft, remove the bay leaf

  • Liquidise the milk, onion and potatoes until they are like a smooth cream. (If you don't have a liquidiser, try a food processor. If you don't have that, then use a potato masher although you won't get such a good smooth creamy texture).

  • Return to the pan, and add the flaked haddock..

  • Season with pepper. (You probably won't want extra salt, as the smoked fish usually provides enough salt).

  • Add chopped parsley.

  • Serve with homemade bread and unsalted butter.

For further recipes check out Authentic Scottish Food Recipes