Recipe: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Curried Beany Cullen Skink

Curried beany cullen skink, a warming lunch or supper dish

Curried beany cullen skink, Hugh's healthy spin on a Scottish classic - Credit: Simon Wheeler

Cullen skink is an old Scottish friend that I keep welcoming back to my kitchen, in various guises. This time round the usual spuds are swapped for creamy beans, there’s a healthy dose of greens in the form of spinach, and a dash of curry gives lovely warmth and extra comfort. 

Serves 4 


2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil 

2 medium leeks or onions, trimmed, halved and sliced 

3 garlic cloves, sliced 

2 bay leaves (optional) 

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1 rounded tbsp medium-hot curry powder or paste 

300ml whole milk 

500ml veg stock  

About 300g smoked haddock or pollack fillet, skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces 

400g tin cannellini or borlotti beans, drained and rinsed 

About 200g baby spinach (or regular spinach, tough stalks removed, leaves roughly chopped) 

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley or coriander (optional) 

Black pepper 


Place a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the oil and then the leeks or onions, garlic, bay leaves if using, and curry powder or paste. Sweat, stirring regularly, for 3–4 minutes. Pour in the milk and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. 

Add the smoked fish and beans followed by the spinach, adding it a handful at a time as it wilts down in the simmering soup. By the time the spinach is wilted (in just a few minutes), the fish will be cooked. 

Add the chopped parsley or coriander if using, and season with a few twists of pepper (the smoked fish should make it salty enough). Ladle into warm bowls and serve. 

READ MORE: Make our Dorset Apple Cake 

Kipper variation

You can use kipper fillets instead of the smoked haddock or pollack. 

Veg variation 

Add sweetcorn (frozen or even tinned) or peas, instead of, or as well as, the beans. 

And, of course, potatoes can replace the beans for a classic cullen skink – peel and roughly chop the spuds, add them to the simmering stock and cook until just tender before adding the smoked fish. 

High's latest book is all about healthy eating

Hugh's latest book is all about healthy eating - Credit: Simon Wheeler

Taken from: Eat Better Forever: 7 Ways to Transform Your Diet by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and published by Bloomsbury buy online at