This rich fish soup hails from the eastern coastal village of Cullen in northern Scotland. There is a dispute about the origin of the name—does skink mean "essence" in Gaelic or derive from the German word Schinken for ham? It is agreed, however, that the soup was first made with the scrapings of beef from a cow's front legs. This change in ingredients points to the fluid versatility of soups and the resourcefulness of people making do with the little that they have. Suzanne O'Connor, head chef of the Scottish Cafe and Restaurant at the National Galleries in Edinburgh, renowned for her use of seasonal, local products, shares this recipe.
1. Melt the butter in a 4-quart pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion slices, the celery, and 3/4 cup of the leeks. Cook until soft, about 15 minutes, making sure they don’t color.
2. Slice 1/2 pound of the potatoes as thinly as possible and roughly chop 1 pound of the haddock. Add to the pot. Stir in the milk and bay leaves. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the potatoes are very soft. Remove the bay leaves and blend the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Return to the pot, add the cream, and heat gently and thoroughly. Add salt and white pepper.
3. Prepare the garnish: Dice the remaining potatoes and haddock. Cook the potatoes in salted, boiling water until they are soft but still hold their shape, about 5 minutes. Blanch the remaining diced leeks for 1 to 2 minutes, until soft.
4. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with diced potatoes, leeks, and haddock.
Originally published in Organic Gardening Magazine December/January 2013