Today I made something I had never heard of before and it was really great — Cullen Skink! So what the heck is Cullen Skink? Is it a crazy phrase I just made up? No, it is not. It is a traditional Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. This soup is a local specialty, from the town of Cullen in Moray, on the north-east coast of Scotland. The soup is often at formal Scottish dinners. It's great with some crusty bread for dipping and is quite smokey and salty — two things I like (not all the time, but sometimes). The name is partly (and indirectly) derived from Gaelic. The first element refers to the town of Cullen in Moray (a place name of Gaelic origin). The second element, "skink," is a Scots word for a shin, knuckle or hock of beef which has developed the secondary meaning of a soup, especially one made from these. The most crucial ingredient is smoked haddock which any good fish supplier should be able to get, after that it's easy!
2 1/2 cups milk
½ cup flat leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
1 lb smoked haddock fillet
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8oz mashed potato, leftover or cooked fresh
Salt and pepper
Pour the milk into a large saucepan. Remove the leaves from the parsley and add the stalks to the milk. Finely chop the leaves and keep to one side. Add the bay leaf and the haddock to the milk. Bring the milk to a gentle boil and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and leave for 5 minutes for the herbs to infuse their flavor into the milk.
Remove the haddock from the milk with a slotted spoon and put to one side. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve the herb-infused milk. Heat the butter in another saucepan, add the onions and cook gently until translucent about 5 minutes. Add the milk to the onions, then add the potato and stir until totally incorporated into the milk and should be a thick, creamy consistency.
Flake the smoked haddock into meaty chunk,s taking care to remove any bones you may find. Add to the soup and then add the chopped parsley leaves to the soup and bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Do not over stir — if you stir it too much you'll break up the fish. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as needed, be careful with the salt, the fish will impart quite a salty flavor all on its own. Serve hot with crusty bread. Serves 4.