Cullen Skink Recipe

This soup is one of my favourite soups ever. The combination of smoked haddock in a light broth of milk, leek and potato works wonderfully well. It can be eaten as a light starter or as a more filling main course. The only problem with it as a starter is that it’s never enough!

Smoked haddock is particularly tasty although the king of this fish, with its extremely smoky but balanced flavour, is the delicious Arbroath smokies. I suggest trying Arbroath smokies as I personally believe that they are a truly delicious product with a unique flavour. The most important thing when buying smoked haddock is to use natural smoked haddock and not the dyed artificial stuff that some places try to sell you. The flavour is far superior.

1kg leeks
200g onions
250g potatoes
150g unsalted butter
700ml water
1l milk
2kg smoked haddock
5 bay leaves
Bouquet garni (thyme, parsley and celery)
100ml double cream
Lemon juice
Salt and cayenne pepper


  • Cut some of the green part from the leeks, leaving mainly the white part.
  • Cut the leeks length ways 3 times. Leave under cold running water for 5 minutes.
  • Now slice the leeks as finely as possible.
  • Peel the onions and slice as finely as possible making sure you leave the entire root out.
  • Peel the potatoes and slice again as finely as possible. Rinse under cold running water briefly so as to separate the slices.
  • Place the Smoked Haddock in a large pan. Add the bay leaves, milk and water. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 5 minutes or until haddock is cooked. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Remove haddock from the stock. Discard all bones and skin leaving just haddock fillets. Pass stock and return to the heat.
  • Meanwhile, in a casserole large enough to hold all the ingredients. Sweat the vegetables in 120g of butter for 5 minutes or just until the initial raw leek aroma has disappeared. Stir to make sure the vegetables are cooking evenly. Make sure the vegetables do not catch else the flavour of the soup will change. Add the Bouquet garni and pour on the simmering stock.
  • Bring to the boil as quickly as possible and simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Make sure the potatoes are sliced as thinly as possible so the soup can cook quickly. If the potatoes are not cooked properly the soup will be granular. Cook the soup to long and you will lose the freshness of the leeks.
  • Add the cream, simmer for a couple more minutes and take off the heat. Remove bouquet garni and liquidise the soup.
  • Pass the soup in to another bucket over ice. Season soup with salt, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Whisk in remaining butter.
  • Chill down as quickly as possible.

To garnish

  • Cut two potatoes into an even dice, also two leeks. Blanche these in water separately until tender.
  • Flake haddock fillets into bite size pieces. Keep these three garnishes separate.

To finish

  • Bring to the boil, blitz with a small knob of butter.
  • Add 10g leek garnish, 15g potato garnish and the 40g flaked haddock.
  • Sprinkle chives on top of the soup and drizzle with olive oil.