Burns’ Night: Cullen skink (serves 4-6)

I don’t usually do a starter for our Burns’ Night feast but this year I had the urge to have a go at this traditional Scottish chowder. I saw some tins of ready made cullen skink in Aldi the week before. I actually picked up a couple and put them in my trolley. I’m a big fan of homemade soups and never really keen on tinned so I don’t know what I was thinking. Anyway, I got round to the fish aisle and saw one of those packs of cubed fish meant for a pie. Hmm. Lightbulb.

I looked at the ingredients on the back of the tinned soup: potatoes, smoked haddock, water, cream, and a few other things. I could totally make this myself! So I did. And I can honestly say it’s one of the quickest, easiest soups I’ve made! No blending. Only two pans. Ready in about 30 minutes. Easy peasy. And there were more surprises to come! I was suprised by how light it was to eat. Not heavy or claggy at all. And I was surprised by how a relatively small amount of fish gave a huge amount of flavour. Anyway, it was quick, easy and delicious. So I thought I’d share it with you.



Knob of butter
1tsp oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
500ml/1 pint water
325g pack of cubed fish (it should be purely smoked haddock but mine was a mixture of smoked haddock, salmon and cod)
250ml double cream (or milk if you want to be a bit healthier)
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
Plenty of black pepper
2 tbs chopped parsley/chives




In a big saucepan, gently soften the onion in the butter and oil.

After about 5 to 10 minutes, add the potatoes and cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer for about 12 minutes, until the spuds are just cooked through. Don’t drain them! Leave them in the water.

While the potatoes are cooking, pour the cream into a shallow pan with the bay leaves and plenty of black pepper and the chunks of fish (check for stray bones as you go). Put this onto a gentle heat and as soon as it starts to simmer, set the timer for 5 minutes.


When the time has passed, pick out the bay leaves. Then I sort of squashed the fish a bit with the flat side of my wooden spatula. Don’t pulverise it. Just help the flakes of fish to separate. Finally, tip the creamy fish mixture into the pan with the potatoes. Give it all a good stir and check the seasoning.

Serve with crusty bread or crackers (which are great crumbled over the soup) and sprinkle a little chopped parsley or chives over the top.



Other Burns’ Night recipes at The Pie Patch:

Haggis, neeps and tatties


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2 thoughts on “Burns’ Night: Cullen skink (serves 4-6)

  1. jules February 3, 2015 at 10:39 Reply

    It looks delicious. The kind of food that feels like it’s good for you. I have been suffering with some kind of virus for a few days now and have some basic leek and potato cooking on the stove. I’m hoping it will make me feel better. There’s beef stew in the slow cooker too. 🙂 Tea break time.

    • The Pie Patch February 3, 2015 at 10:54 Reply

      Oooh, they both sound ace. Definitely a comfort food day.

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