Sunday, January 25

Soup on Sunday: Burns Supper

Today marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s beloved Robert Burns. Many around the world will mark this occasion with a traditional Burns supper.

The annual Burns Supper is an institution of Scottish life. It is a night to celebrate the life and works of Burns. Suppers can range from an informal gathering of friends to a huge, formal dinner full of pomp and circumstance. The BBC has a complete running order on their website. It’s a fun read, but at the end of the day, it comes down to your budget and personal choice.

A few key ingredients for hosting a proper Burns Supper include:
A Piper
A Haggis
A Toast to Robert Burns
One of his songs or poems
Arousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne

The main course is, of course, haggis, and is traditionally served with mashed potatoes (tatties) and mashed neeps (known in England as swede but in Scotland as turnip, or in North America as rutabaga and turnip).

A typical menu might include:
A good warming soup (either Cock-a-leekie or Cullen Skink)
A small plate of haggis, neeps and tatties
A sweet such as Clootie Dumplings (a pudding prepared in a linen cloth)
A cheeseboard with oatcakes and tea/coffee
A wee dram of Whisky

Cullen Skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. This traditional soup is a local speciality, from the town of Cullen in Moray, on the north-east coast of Scotland. Cullen Skink is extremely easy and quick to make. It must be said that there are hundreds of variations.

1¼ pints/700 ml milk
½ cup/ small handful flat leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
2lb /900g undyed, smoked haddock fillet
½ stick/55g butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
12oz/ 350g mashed potato
Salt and pepper

Pour the milk into a large saucepan. Remove the leaves from the parsley and add the stalks to the milk. Finely chop the leaves and keep to one side. Add the bay leaf and the haddock.

Bring the milk to a gentle boil and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the haddock from the milk and put to one side. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve the liquid.

Heat the butter in stockpot, add the onions and cook gently until translucent about 5 minutes, taking care not to burn. Add the reserved liquid to the onions, then add the potato and stir until incorporated to create a thick, creamy consistency. You can add more milk to create desired consistency.

Flake the smoked haddock into meaty chunks taking care to remove any bones and add to the soup. Add the chopped parsley leaves to the soup and bring to a gentle simmer and cook for a further 4 - 5 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as needed.
Serves 4

Image from Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill's book Classic Entertaining


Debra said...

You are a treasure-trove. This is facinating. Love the menu- with a little scotch... neat! Will you be preparing a similar dinner?

pve design said...

Sounds like a lovely tradition and fascinating too.
I always enjoy hearing about your life in Scotland.

Teacats said...

My Love is like a Red Red Rose -- a beautiful song by the Bard

Another Scots lass -- living in Dallas! My mum is from Auckinleck -- Robbie Burns country!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Patricia Gray said...

You always do the best Sunday dinners. I am drooling!!

ALL THE BEST said...

Thanks Debra!! We had a small affair at home with soup of course!

ALL THE BEST said...

Thank you Patricia (PVE)! It has been a wonderful experience for our whole family!

ALL THE BEST said...

And I am a Texas lass living in Scotland! :-)

ALL THE BEST said...

Patrica you have an open invitation to dinner any time!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

The best Cullen Skink I ever tasted was at Loch Bay Seafood on Skye. I came home and immediately set to re-creating it. An old Scottish cookbook helped! I just don't know about the haggis, though. I do wish you a wonderful Burns evening!!

Karena said...

Oh my, what a menu , I wish I had it in me to prepare this delightful Scottish meal!

MIMILEE said...

This makes me want to be back in Scotland!!! Great post, Ronda!

tartanscot said...

Yummy ! I wish I were back in Scotland on this special night. Your recipe would make my grandfather proud.