Cullen Skink - seaside Scottish soup

Food & Drink

Cullen Skink - seaside Scottish soup

Cullen skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. This is a local speciality from the village of Cullen in Moray, on the northeast coast of Scotland.

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 locals 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.

Cullen Skink is often served as a starter at formal Scottish dinners but is also widely served as an everyday dish across the northeast of Scotland.

Local recipes for Cullen skink have several slight variations, such as the use of milk instead of water or the addition of single cream. Other variations include mashing the potatoes to make the soup thicker. Cullen skink was traditionally served with bread.

It has been described as "smokier and more assertive than American chowder, heartier than classical French bisque".

There is an annual Cullen Skink World Championships usually held at the Cullen Bay Hotel. Spectators are welcome to the event where amateur and professional cooks from around the world compete to produce the best Cullen Skink in the world.

Further reading

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