On Scotland, and Cullen Skink

Scotland is pretty. Scotland is very, very pretty. We were just there for four days, but it was so lovely. Cold, a little rainy at times, but lovely. And you know all those things you’ve heard about English food being kind of gross and bland? (Haven’t you?) And you know how one might also assume that Scottish food could be gross and bland? Don’t believe a word (or assumption) of it. Plus there’s that whole really delicious cask ales and single malt Scotch thing, too. Plus there’s Sticky Toffee Pudding! Really, Scotland has a lot going for it.


And here, probably my favorite part of Scotland (or rather my favorite indoor part): The pubs, and cafes, and breakfast.

That basically describes our trip. We did a lot of walking, and ate a lot of food. And, we even came back with a recipe or two.


If you like clam chowder except for the clams, Cullen Skink is just the right soup for you.  (You can even like clams and still like this soup, har! – Kara) We picked it off the menu in a pub because we were intrigued by the name (plus they were out of the brie and chutney we were eyeing), and it was the perfect thing to warm us down to our toes after a cold evening walk around Edinburgh.  We really didn’t know what to expect, but when the soup bowl arrived and we took a taste, we knew it was one we could reproduce at home.

Cullen Skink

  • ¼ cup finely chopped sweet onion (we would have used a leek, but we were out of them)
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 4 medium cooked potatoes, cut into large cubes
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup light cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk (you need about 3 cups liquid all together – use any combination of milk/cream that you like)
  • ¾ pound smoked fish (haddock is the most authentic, but we found smoked halibut and it was a good substitute – about 330 grams or 11.5 ounces)
  • A sprinkle of dried parsley, marjoram, or other herbs of your choice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a 3-quart or larger saucepan, cook the onion in the butter until it is tender and just beginning to brown.  Add the potato cubes and stir around to coat with the butter, then sprinkle the potatoes and onions with flour, stirring again to coat.  Add the cream/milk and stir occasionally while it heats.  When it is nice and hot, add the smoked fish in chunks.  Season to taste and gently simmer for about ten minutes so the flavors can mingle (stir as needed to prevent sticking).

Tami and Kara

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