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Cullen Skink Soup Recipe: Scottish Smoked Haddock Soup

Updated on February 11, 2012

How To Cook Cullen Skink Soup - Traditional Scottish Recipe

Cullen Skink
Cullen Skink

But First, What is Cullen Skink? Cullen Skink is a traditional Scottish soup made with Finnan Haddie (smoked haddock), onions and potato.

The dish originates from Cullen, a Morayshire fishing town located in North East of Scotland. Skink is a soup usually made from shin of beef, however, the main ingredient of Cullen Skink is the Finnan Haddie. Cullen Skink is often called Smoked Haddock Chowder outside of Scotland.

Cullen Skink was originally a broth made from shin of beef. The hard times that befell the folks of Northern Scotland in the late 1800s meant that beef was a luxury that could not be afforded. At that time, Cullen was a thriving fishing village that also specialized in the production of smoked haddock. Smoked haddock was cheap and in plentiful supply and replaced beef as the dishes main ingredient. When combined with other local produce Cullen Skink as we know it today was born

Cullen Skink Recipe: Serves 4


  • 1 large smoked haddock fillet with skin on (if you can’t get Finnan Haddie any smoked, undied haddock fillet will do)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 9oz (250g) potatoes, washed and peeled
  • 600ml milk (1 UK pint or 1 and ¼ US pints)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp single cream or half and half (optional)


  1. Pour the milk into a large saucepan along with the smoked haddock and the bay leaf.
  2. Bring the milk to a slow boil and simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. (This allows the smoky flavor to thoroughly infuse the milk.)
  4. Remove the smoked haddock and the bay leaf from the milk. Put the haddock to one side, the bay leaf has done its work and can be discarded.
  5. Strain the smoke infused milk through a fine sieve to remove any fish skin that may have detached during the cooking process.
  6. Heat the unsalted butter in a saucepan, add the onions and cook gently until translucent. Take care not to burn them. (The flavor of burnt onions will spoil the taste of the soup.)
  7. Add the milk to and potato the onions and stir regularly.
  8. Keep stirring until the potatoes are cooked and start to break down. This will create a thick, creamy consistency to the soup.
  9. Flake the smoked haddock into good sized chunks taking care to removing the skin and any bones you may find in the process. Add the flaked haddock to the soup.
  10. Return the soup to the heat and bring back the Cullen Skink to a gentle simmer and serve piping hot.

More Traditional Scottish Recipes


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    • profile image

      Susan Osborn 17 months ago

      Finnan Haddie is rare in my neck of the woods, but what I can get is excellent non canned whole kippers, and they should make an excellent soup using this recipe. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Marie 3 years ago

      Thank you for posting these recipes. I have printed off some of them to try. I hope you don't mind. I am in Australia but my ancestors were from Elgin in Morayshire and my husbands were from Orkney.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      Peter Hoggan, Smoked haddock chowder is the name by which I know Cullen Skink. But the original name is even more enticing and tempting even though "smoked," "haddock" and "chowder" are words guaranteed to get my culinary attention. Is this broth ever served with beef instead of haddock? If so, what is the name?

      Thank you for sharing, voted up + all,


      P.S. I must own up to a fit of the giggles when I saw this title among recipes since my first thought was that it was about eating a lizard from Cullen!

    • Peter Hoggan profile image

      Peter Hoggan 6 years ago from Scotland

      Thanks for dropping in and commenting stessily. Cullen Skink is indeed a dish that came about because of austerity measures... come to think of it, some things never change.

    • profile image

      stessily 6 years ago

      Culinary history is so fascinating and so revelatory, especially when ingredient substitutions are linked to local events. The misfortune of an economic downturn is thereby responsible for the distinctiveness of Cullen Skink.

      Thank you for sharing the background and a tempting recipe.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 6 years ago from Peru, South America

      What a unique and interesting recipe! Will see if I can find smoked haddock in our part of the world.

    • Peter Hoggan profile image

      Peter Hoggan 6 years ago from Scotland

      FrugalandFab, thanks for pointing that out, I have edited the recipe so that it's a bit clearer.

    • FrugalandFab profile image

      FrugalandFab 6 years ago from New Hampshire

      Being from New England I can't help but love a good seafood or fish based soup and this sounds delightful! I cannot wait to try it. I did have to look up "single cream" as I had never heard of it before so for those of us from the states "single cream" = half and half. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 6 years ago

      I always enjoy reading authentic ethnic recipes.