• Brianne Moore

Cullen Skink

A hearty winter warmer


Against the farthest wall, a spare, hatchet-faced chef carefully stirs what looks like a pot of béchamel sauce on the stove. Another pot of cullen skink soup bubbles gently on a back burner

The name may sound unpleasant, but this traditional Scottish fish soup is hearty, satisfying, and delicious - perfect for dark wintery days!

For those interested in odd food names: Cullen is the name of a fishing town on the Moray Firth. Skink, though, is a bit more obscure. According to the Oxford Companion to Food, it's a variation of the German "schinke," or ham shin, and the archetypal skink is a soup made from a shin of beef." Since cattle is scarce in coastal towns, it seems the locals adapted as needed.

Cullen Skink

(recipe courtesy of Felicity Cloake at The Guardian)

1 lb undyed smoked haddock, skin on (if you can't find smoked haddock, other smoked fish will do) A bay leaf Knob of butter 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 leek, washed and cut into chunks 2 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into chunks 2 cups whole milk Chives, chopped, to serve

  1. Put the fish into a pan large enough to hold it comfortably, and cover with about 300ml cold water. Add the bay leaf, and bring gently to the boil. By the time it comes to the boil, the fish should be just cooked – if it's not, then give it another minute or so. Remove from the pan, and set aside to cool. Take the pan off the heat.

  2. Melt the butter in another pan on a medium-low heat, and add the onion and the leek. Cover and allow to sweat, without colouring, for about 10 minutes until softened. Season with black pepper.

  3. Add the potato and stir to coat with butter. Pour in the haddock cooking liquor and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potato is tender.

  4. Meanwhile, remove the skin, and any bones from the haddock, and break into flakes.

  5. Lift out a generous slotted spoonful of potatoes and leeks, and set aside. Discard the bay leaf. Add the milk, and half the haddock to the pan, and either mash roughly or blend until smoothish.

  6. Season to taste, and serve with a generous spoonful of the potato, leek and haddock mixture in each bowl, and a sprinkling of chives.

Give the gift of All Stirred Up! Visit Penguin Random House's website to find out where you can get your copy!

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