Recipe: Cullen Skink with poached egg

I COULDN'T THINK of a better dish to make on a cold, frosty day than Cullen Skink. Braving the winter chill, I embarked on a stroll towards Leith Walk, where I often enjoy picking up my ingredients.  On the way back, the weather turned for the worse... I hope this trip was worth it!

Leith Walk offers a plethora of cafes, coffee houses and food stores from a diverse range of backgrounds, as well a s few better know brand eateries.   Today, we were making a classic Scottish dish - Cullen Skink -  and visited Welsh the Fishmongers and Tattie Shaws for our required ingredients; it was worth battling the snow storm in the end!

For this recipe, we make a vegetable nage, which is a  light, fragrant stock. For me, fish stock would overpower the flavours of the aromats, but the nage will keep it balanced and add bags of flavour.


For the nage
2x banana shallots, finely diced
1x fennel bulb, finely diced (set half aside for soup)
1x leek, finely diced
2x carrot, finely diced
1x celery stalk, finely diced
Splash olive oil
Pinch of sea salt

2x star anise
6x black peppercorns
6x white peppercorns
Few sprigs of curly parsley
2x bay leaves
Cold water to cover


2x  smoked haddock fillets (please source from a reputable fishmonger and an MSC approved source)
2x diced banana shallots, finely diced
1x leek, finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb from nage mix
1x garlic clove
500g floury potatoes, diced
Stock from nage, to cover,
200ml double cream
200ml full fat milk
Chives, finely chopped for garnish
Salt and pepper
Rapeseed oil

2x fresh free-range eggs
Splash of good quality white wine vinegar


1) Start by gently sweating the diced vegetables for 7-8 minutes. Add the cold water to cover and bring to the boil.  Add the aromats (star anise, bay, peppercorns) and reduce to a simmer.

2) Simmer for 15 mins then turn off heat. Add the parsley and push to the bottom.  Now add the fish to gently poach for 6-8 mins. Remove with a fish slice and break into chunks. Leave the nage to infuse for an hour. Once cooled, cover fish and place in fridge. 

*TIP* make a large batch and freeze in ice cube trays for a handy stock. 

3) Strain through a sieve then through muslin cloth or a clean tea towel for a clear stock. Place required amount in a pot and heat to just below the boil.

4) Start the soup by sweating the leek and shallot for 7-8 mins.  Add the garlic and the cubed potatoes.  Cook for two mins and season.  

5)   Add the nage to cover and bring to the boil, reducing to a simmer. Cook for around 15 mins or until potatoes are tender,  add the milk and cream.  Stir to combine and bring back to boil.  The soup should thicken with the starch from the potatoes. Reduce to simmer.

6) Meanwhile, boil the kettle and fill a medium-sized pot three quarters full with boiling water.  Add a splash of white wine vinegar and create a 'whirlpool' with a large spoon.  As the swirling water begins to calm down, place in the eggs.  Cook for 1 1/2 - 2 mins and set aside.

7) Add 3/4s of the fish to the soup and serve into hot bowls.  Spoon the remaining fish into the centre of the bowl and place the poached egg on top. Neatly scatter the chives around and drizzle with olive oil and cream.  Serve with some good quality bread.

For information on sustainable fish and a list of suppliers, please visit