Cullen Skink

Just to let you know, this post was written before I started the paleo diet to help ease my psoriasis. Nowadays I eat a more allergy-friendly diet, but leave these older, non-paleo posts up in case they are useful to readers, as I know not everyone eats the same as I do. Thanks for your understanding. 

There's something about the scent of smoked fish that is so calming and comforting. And of course when you combine that with soup, you have a match made in comfort food heaven.

Cullen skink is a creamy soup made with smoked haddock, leeks, potatoes and onions. Don't let the name put you off - it's named after the village it was first made (Cullen, in Morayshire) and an old word for 'soup' or 'essence'. And if you love smoked fish but you've never tried it I urge you to give it a go.

Cullen Skink
Serves 4, generously

  • 300g smoked haddock fillets, skin left on
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • a bay leaf
  • 1 onion
  • 1 medium-sized leek
  • 3 waxy potatoes (like the Charlotte variety, or new potatoes)
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • Black pepper
  • Chives, for serving
  1. Lay the fish in a shallow frying pan and cover with 300ml cold water. Add the bay leaf and bring to the boil. Once the water has started boiling, turn off the heat and leave to cool.
  2. In a fairly large saucepan, fry the choped onion and chopped leek in the butter until soft but not coloured.
  3. Add the diced potatoes and give it a good grinding of black pepper. Stir.
  4. Pour in the haddock's cooking liquid, along with the bay leaf.
  5. When the potato is cooked through, scoop out a couple of serving spoons of the chopped veg and leave on a saucer. This will add texture to your soup later on.
  6. Remove the skin and any bones from the fish and add about half of it to the pan, along with the milk. Remove the bay leaf.
  7. With a stick blender, blend the soup until smooth and creamy and then add the reserved vegetables and flake in the rest of the fish. Gently heat through, and give it a stir (try not to break the fish up too much though) and taste - add some salt if you need to but remember that the fish might aleady be salty. Serve while still hot, some crusty bread and the snipped chives sprinkled over the top.


  1. Absolutely love Cullen Skink. So pleased you have used it with milk and not cream. I've never tried making it before. I'm so used to having it in tea shops when I go back to Scotland. Now you have given me an excuse to make it!


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