Bone Healthy Cullen Skink Soup

Updated: June 8, 2018

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My favorite Fall soup, possibly because of some Scottish genes I’ve inherited, is my bone-healthy version of a fish chowder called Cullen Skink (Cullen is a section of Scotland, skink=soup).

In Scotland, it’s made with cow’s milk, cream, butter, not sure what for the broth, but definitely not miso, and smoked haddock. As some in our family don’t do well with dairy, and smoked haddock is not available in Seattle, I’ve had to make some milk and fish substitutions.

Also, cauliflower is not an ingredient in “true” Cullen Skink, but I love this cruciferous vegetable for its creamy taste, minimal caloric content and significant health benefits. I try to get Joe to eat crucifers regularly, so I snuck cauliflower into this soup. Not only does it work beautifully, but cauliflower cuts down the calories since you need fewer potatoes.

Cullen Skink Recipe


  • 4 cups milk – you can use organic cow’s milk, soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk (not canned—the kind that comes in milk cartons) whatever you like and have on hand
  • 4 cups vegetable broth– I often use 2 tablespoons of Miso dissolved in 4 cups of water to make the broth both for its rich flavor and because its fermented, its beneficial effects on our gut flora
  • 1 large organic red onion – or 2-3 leeks – diced. I choose red onions because they contain anti-inflammatory anthocyanins not found in white onions.
  • 4 medium sized organic Red and/or Yukon potatoes –  cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 head organic cauliflower — cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin organic olive oil
  • 4-6 ounces smoked albacore tuna (I order Oregon’s Choice canned smoked albacore on-line. Unlike other smoked fish I’ve seen, Oregon’s Choice products contains no sugar, are made using small, line-caught Pacific Ocean tuna, and tested to ensure mercury is well below the allowable limit.)
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen wild-caught halibut or cod or a mixture of both
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 cups chopped organic parsley


1. Coat halibut and/or cod with 1 tablespoon olive oil, rub with salt and pepper. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes until fish flakes easily. Gently break fish up into bite-sized pieces checking for (and removing) any bones. Set aside.

2. Sauté the onions over low heat until translucent. Add chopped cauliflower and potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, low heat, covered.

3. Add broth, cook a 3-5 minutes more.

4. Add milk, cook another 5 minutes. When potatoes and cauliflower have softened, add paprika and use an immersion blender to purée soup until smooth.

5. Add parsley to hot soup and blend to mix.

6. Gently stir in flaked cod or halibut and smoked albacore tuna.

7. Drizzle remaining olive oil on top and sprinkle with remaining chopped parsley.

8. Serve with toasted gluten-free sourdough bread topped with butter and grated parmesan (if you can tolerate dairy) and a tossed green salad.

Cullen Skink Recipe

You can make this soup a day ahead, refrigerate and gently warm back up; it tastes even better the following day. Any left-overs can be returned to the refrigerator and will keep well for 3-4 days.

Nutrient Density in 1 Cup (8 ounces)

Calories 173, Protein 19 g, Carbs 13 g, Fiber 3 g, Fat 5.87 g (3 g monounsaturated, 0.37 g omega-3, 1.5 g polyunsaturated of which 1 g = omega-6)

Calcium 56 mg, magnesium 48 mg, potassium 571 mg, selenium 31 mcg, vitamin B12 0.68 mcg, niacin 3.77 mg, choline 48.95 mg, folate 37 mcg, vitamin A (retinol) 9.11mcg, beta-carotene 487 mcg, vitamin C 34 mg, vitamin D 70 IU, vitamin E (gamma tocopherol 1.91 mg; delta tocopherol 1.44 mg) vitamin K1 163 mcg

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  1. Joy Nash

    November 2, 2016 , 4:58 pm

    I’m familiar with the traditional Cullen Skink as I hail from Scotland, but this altered recipe sounds delicious, especially as I have problems with dairy too. Will definitely give it a try! Thanks…

  2. Monica

    November 3, 2016 , 2:10 am

    Yes, please let us know what you think 🙂

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

  3. Ashley Burdass

    August 3, 2019 , 9:53 am

    Hi there, soup sounds delicious.

    Can I just clarify though.

    Cullen is not a section of Scotland, rather a small town in Moray on the North East coast.
    Skink is not soup, but rather a word originally meaning shin and used to refer to shin of beef but as this was rare in this area and Haddock was abundant the word transferred over to the fish dish made locally in Cullen.

  4. Lara Pizzorno

    August 3, 2019 , 10:46 am

    Thanks for these specifics. Do you know any source of haddock here in the U.S.? I would love to be able to more closely reproduce the wonderful flavor of the Cullen Skink we’ve so enjoyed in Scotland.

  5. Christine Wilson

    September 28, 2019 , 8:34 pm

    Being Scottish this soup is a favourite but I do like the changes in your recipe. Must give it a try.

  6. Lara Pizzorno

    September 29, 2019 , 4:58 pm

    Do let me know what you think — not as good as this soup is in Scotland but passable. I so wish we could get haddock here in the U.S.!

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,