Cullen Skink Recipe

Hello, friends. Today’s recipe comes to you from the great state of Florida! No, not really. It comes from the village of Cullen in Moray, Scotland. I just had to go all the way to Florida to find the haddock.

I have wanted to make Cullen skink soup for a while. I searched for the required fish at every single local grocery store here in Virginia. None to be found, I was delighted when, while on vacation, I spotted frozen haddock at the Publix in Panama City Beach, Florida. I immediately bought two bags, packed them on ice, and took them back home with me in the car. Using packaged frozen fish is probably not quite as good as fresh, but hey, be grateful for what you have, right?

So I’m guessing by now that you have realized that Cullen skink soup is not made of skink.


That’s a relief, huh? The name turned me off, too, at first.


What Cullen skink is, is a thick, Scottish soup made with the basic ingredients of haddock (a saltwater fish found in the North Atlantic), potatoes, and onions. There are many recipe variations, but the one constant is that the fish should be smoked. Technically your haddock should be cold-smoked (imagine the flat vacuum-sealed packs of fish you find at the grocery store like lox), which means smoking it at less than 80 degrees. You can find instructions on how to do this on the internet. Since what I purchased was unsmoked, I turned to Mr. C to perform his magic at our kamado-style smoker.

Note: We opted not to brine our haddock and to ‘cool-smoke’ over hickory chips at 200 degrees for about an hour instead. The result was delicious – lightly smoked and only slightly cooked.


Authentic Cullen skink is made with finnan haddie, haddock that has been cold-smoked over green wood and peat.

Once you smoke your fish, the soup is incredibly easy. And so delicious! Here is My Plaid Heart’s version of Cullen skink.


2 – 10 oz. smoked haddock filets (we very lightly smoked ours at 200 degrees for about an hour); medium chop when cooled

4 small white potatoes, medium diced

2 leeks, medium diced

1 small yellow onion, medium diced

8 Tbsp. butter (I used Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter)

a generous amount of pepper; salt to taste

heavy cream-to taste

Ingredients for Cullen skink.
Ingredients for Cullen skink.

How to make Cullen skink:

Step 1:  In a pot over low heat, melt 8 Tbsp. butter.

Step 2:  When the butter begins to simmer, add the onion.  Cook until soft 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  *Be careful not to caramelize the onion.

Step 3:  Add the leeks.  Cover and cook until soft, 1-2 minutes.

Step 4:  Add the potatoes, salt, and pepper.  Stir ingredients together, cover, and simmer for about 2 minutes.

Step 5:  Cover mixture with water.  Increase heat to bring back to a simmer.  Once simmering, turn heat down to low and let simmer for about 45 minutes (or until the water has boiled down below the tops of the mixture and the potatoes are soft).

Step 6:  Add cream to desired consistency.

Step 7:  Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Step 8:  Add fish.  Bring to a simmer.

Step 9:  Garnish with chives and serve.  Serves 2-3.

A bowl of Cullen skink.

There you go. Simple, hearty, and delicious! If you decide to try this recipe, I would love to know how it turned out and what you think. And my Scottish friends, I would also like to know how you make yours.

Have a terrific week, everyone.



*Skink photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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