This rather odd name is said to come from the Gaelic word "Essence".  Initially, Cullen Skink referred to a type of broth made with the scrapings of beef from the front legs of cattle.  Hard times in the early 1890s left the Northern people unable to buy this product.  By this time, Cullen Harbour (completed in 1819) had become the thriving centre of herring fishing and the village also specialised in the production of smoked haddock.  With many families in the local villages having a fishing background, they turned to smoked haddock which was in plentiful supply.  By using smoked haddock and various other products all put together, a distinctive delicious soup was made.


  • 450g of potatoes, peeled and diced roughly into 1cm squares
  • 1 tablespoon of summer harvest rapeseed oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 450g of undyed smoked haddock, skinned and cooked
  • 300ml of boiling water (You can use chicken or vegetable stock if you want and pop in the haddock skin for added flavour. However, don’t use fish stock as it makes it too fishy!)
  • 425ml of full cream milk
  • 3 tablespoons of double cream (optional)
  • a bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh chives
Serves: 4


  1. Gently soften the onion in a heavy based pot
  2. Add the diced potato and stir for a minute or two
  3. Season lightly
  4. Add the milk/stock water to the pot with the bay leaf and place the fish on top
  5. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes then lift the fish out and set it aside. Remove the bay leaf.
  6. Discard any bones and break the fish into chunks. Keep it warm.
  7. Return the mix to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes to fully cook the potatoes
  8. Stir in the fish and cream
  9. Season to taste and serve immediately, garnished with chives