Cullen Skink (Traditional Scottish Fish Chowder)

Servings 4


  • 4 cups 950ml whole milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound 450g finnan haddie (Scottish smoked haddock), or homemade cold-smoked fish (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 medium 8-ounce; 225g yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound 450g Yukon gold potatoes, peel on or off as desired, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup 120ml heavy cream
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper optional
  • Finely minced chives for garnish


  • In 3-quart saucepan, heat milk with bay leaf over medium heat until nearly simmering. Add fish and cook until just starting to flake. Using a slotted spoon, remove fish to paper towels to drain; set aside. Discard bay leaf. Transfer milk to heatproof mixing bowl or other container; set aside.
  • Wash saucepan and return to medium heat. Add butter and cook until melted. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until nicely softened but not browned, about 6 minutes.
  • Return milk to saucepan and add potatoes. Return milk to bare simmer. Then cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes; stir and scrape saucepan occasionally to prevent milk from scorching.
  • Using a potato masher or large wooden spoon, crush potatoes in pot until partially mashed. You want a good range of potato bits, some so small they thicken the broth but also larger chunks.
  • Remove and discard any skin or bones from fish; then flake into the soup. Add cream. Season with salt and pepper, and, if desired, stir in pinch of cayenne. Serve, sprinkling chives on top of each bowl.
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