Cullen Skink

Haddock fillets on a slate background next to illustrations of the ingredients needed to make Cullen Skink

This recipe for the creamy smoked haddock soup from the village of Cullen on the Moray coast takes its cue from the traditional method on two fronts, using finnan haddock – smoked by our expert fishmongers over peat and green wood and sold with the back fin on for extra flavour – instead of the more common smoked haddock, and favouring mashed potato over the modern preference for chunks of boiled potatoes. Keep it simple and serve with warm crusty bread.

  • Cook Time40 min
  • Serving Size4
  • Course
    • Starter
  • Cooking Method
    • Poach


  • 400g finnan haddock, skin removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 600ml whole milk
  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into evenly-sized chunks
  • 3 x 25g unsalted butter
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper



Add the chopped potatoes to a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 12-15 minutes until soft.


Drain the potatoes, add 50g butter, salt and pepper, and mash well until smooth.


Add the finnan haddock and bay leaf to a wide pan and cover with the milk. Place on a low-to-medium heat, slowly bring the milk to a simmer then remove from the heat. The haddock should be just cooked – if not, leave it for 1-2 minutes in the cooling liquid.


Remove the haddock from the liquid with a slotted spoon and set aside.


Strain the poaching liquor through a sieve into a clean pan or bowl and set aside.


Add the olive oil and 25g butter to a soup pan or casserole dish and place over a low-to-medium heat.


When the butter has melted, add the onion and cook gently without colouring for 3-4 minutes until soft.


Add the poaching liquor to the onion and stir well. Add the mashed potato gradually until you are happy with the consistency – you may not use all of it.


Flake the finnan haddock with your fingers, discarding the fin and any bones, then add it to the soup along with three-quarters of the parsley.


Slowly bring the soup to a gentle simmer, stirring carefully so you don’t break up the flaked fish, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning – there should be little need for extra salt but black pepper will add depth to the flavour.


Serve in warmed bowls, sprinkling the remaining parsley over the top.

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