Legendary Dishes | Cullen Skink (smoked haddock and potato soup)


The local tradition of combing the haddock with milk, onions and potatoes complimented the wider Atlantic tradition that produced chowder.

Named for the town of Cullen on the Moray Firth east of Inverness in Scotland, this thick soup gets its reputation from locally smoked Finnan haddock. Finnan haddock has a distinctive flavour, a consequence of the green wood and earthy peat used to smoke the fish.

This is one of those dishes that can be made with shop bought smoked haddock but it is a thousand times better with the Finnan variety, and avoid dyed haddock like the plague.

  • 400 ml milk
  • 400 g potatoes, peeled, cut small, boiled, mashed with 15 g butter
  • 400 g smoked haddock
  • 250 g onions
  • 50 ml concentrated fish stock (optional)
  • 15 g butter (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Black pepper, pinch
  • Salt, pinch
  • Water, for poaching

Put the haddock in a shallow pan, add onions and bay leaf and sufficient water to cover the fish, bring to a low boil and poach for five minutes. Remove the fish and carefully break it into flakes, set aside. If using whole haddock, place the bones along with the skin back in the poaching water, simmer for 20 minutes, then strain the liquid into a clean pot. Alternatively use a concentrated fish stock. Add milk to the stock, bring to a simmer, add the mashed  potatoes and heat gently, until the potato has dissolved into a creamy soup, not too thick. If thin reduce for several minutes. Adding flakes of butter is optional. Arrange the haddock in equal amounts in soup bowls, pour over the hot stock, season and serve.