Cullen Skink, you have opened my eyes to your smokey goodness and I might even suggest you’re better than our New England Clam Chowder!!!
That’s right folks, Cullen Skink, might be better than our beloved Clam Chowder 😉!!! I was recently introduced to this soup by the June Cork Pub in Dover, New Hampshire. This British Sports Pub, celebrates great British Pub food and the Cullen Skink drew me in because it was from the town of Cullen in North East Scotland and it was described as “hearty, creamy and wholesome, it blows chowder out of the water.” As you may know, David (my husband) is from Scotland, so we needed to try this soup. Two, I was intrigued with the claim, “blows chowder out the water”, since I consider myself a Clam Chowder connoisseur.
Once I tried this soup at the June Cork Pub, my mind was blown 🤯!!! It was smokey and creamy and I actually thought, this soup might very well blow clam chowder out of the water!!! Since having it, I was intrigued and thought I’d start my research and make it at home.
Cullen Skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. Those ingredients are nice and simple, am I right 😉? As I researched, I found some recipes call for water, while others use milk or single cream. Some variations even suggest mashing the potato to produce a thicker soup.
After researching, I decided I would use whole milk, seafood stock and some light cream, as well as an onion and leek.
Traditionally, a Finnan Haddie or an Arbroath Smokie would be used, but we don’t have the luxury of a Scottish smoked haddock. Since we couldn’t even find smoked haddock at the market, we decided we’d smoke ourselves. We also added bacon to add some extra smokiness and while not a traditional ingredient, it worked well!!!
Once the haddock and bacon were smoked, we were ready to go and this soup was able to be created in about 30 minutes!!! First, I chopped up the bacon into bite sized strips and fried until crispy. The bacon was removed and I sauteed the onions and leeks in the bacon grease and a touch of fresh unsalted butter.
Once those were translucent and aromatic, I added the potatoes.
The potatoes got happy in the stockpot, I then added the seafood stock and simmered until the potatoes were fork ready! The starches in the potato helped to create a thick soup, which you can see in the photos below.
Meanwhile, the smoked haddock was added to a medium saucepan with the milk and cream. I simmered those low because I didn’t want my dairy separating.
Once the potatoes were ready, I added the smokey goodness; i.e. smoked haddock, milk, cream and bacon; to the stock pot with a healthy handful of fresh parsley.
All and all, I found this soup super easy to create and boy was it delicious! If you love our traditional New England Seafood Chowders, I would definitely give this a try because it is smoker and more assertive than our American classic, cheers 🥂!
If you do give this a try, please leave your feedback 🙏!
Cullen Skink, aka Smoked Haddock Soup
- 1½ lbs smoked haddock
- 4 slices bacon, cut into ¼ inch stripes
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 1 medium leek, cut into thin rings
- 5 medium potatoes, cubed into bite sized pieces
- 3 cups seafood stock
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup light cream
- salt & ground pepper, for seasoning
- 1 handful fresh parsley, leaves removed from stem, reserve some for garnishing
- Add your bacon stripes to a large stockpot and fry on medium until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to absorb the excess bacon grease.
- Add the butter to the bacon grease and melt the butter on medium heat. Now, add the onion and leeks and cook until aromatic, don't forget to season with a bit of salt and ground pepper.
- Add the potatoes and stir those together with the aromatics.
- Add the seafood stock and cook the potatoes to your desired consistency (I'd suggest the fork is able to enter easily), 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.
- Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, add the smoked haddock, milk and cream and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, don't forget to season with a bit of salt and ground pepper. Be careful not to boil and you're looking to simply warm the haddock and allow the smokiness to permeate the milk and cream.
- Once the potatoes have cooked and your soup is beginning to thicken, the soup will be ready for the smoked haddock, milk and cream.
- Add the smoked haddock, milk, cream and the bacon (reserve some for garnishing) to the large stockpot and cook for another 5-10 minutes together. Taste the soup during this time and adjust the salt & ground pepper, as you desire.
- Turn off the heat on your soup and add a good handful of parsley, reserving some for garnishing.
- Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with the reserved bacon and parsley. Enjoy with fresh bread, cheers 🍻!