Finnish traditional summer soup


Summer soup from Finland

A word of warning, you might hate this dish and it’s not my fault.

This soup is a very traditional Finnish dish and as many traditional national foods it might not make sense in today’s world or outside the borders of the country where it was born. A bit like haggis.

I remember this soup wasn’t exactly the favourite when we were kids and a lot of Finns don’t love it even as adults. It’s all veg and kind of hardcore veg like cauliflower with its slightly off-putting smell. And it’s cooked in milk. I can see my brother doing some retching moves at this point.

But I love this. I love the smell of boiling new potatoes and cauliflower, dill, the freshly podded sweet peas. So homely and summery. Like mum wrapping you in a towel after a swim in the lake and hugging you until your lips turn back from blue to normal colour.

Peas in pods are such a summer thing as well. We used to get them as treats. Our parents were into a healthy lifestyle to say the least (my mother calls herself The Health Educator. I remember we went to the theatre recently and there was this lady actor, slightly on the curvy side eating a muffin or something. It was part of the play of course. My mother, whose hearing is not that great nowadays said in a very loud voice “I don’t think she should be eating that.”) As kids we were allowed proper sweets only on Saturdays and we had to buy them with our weekly allowance, which we did of course using all of the allowance. What better use could you find for your Finmarks, huh? So Sunday to Friday we made do with raisins and peas.

Luckily husband is very open minded about lots of vegetables (excluding coriander, spinach and rocket) and he seems to really like this soup. My mum has made this for us, but then my husband worships the ground my mum walks on, so I bet if she gave him coriander patties in spinach sauce with a rocket salad, he’d love it. But I have also made this soup to him before and he liked it so I dared to do it again. I did mention it is my mum’s recipe, that always improves the reception of any dish.

Last night’s version I think was very well executed, I made sure all veggies were fresh and new harvest. That’s the whole point of the soup and that’s why it’s called summer soup. It’s made of the summer’s new potatoes, pod peas and so on.

This is not just nostalgia, but new potatoes in the Nordics actually taste a bit different, it's not the way I cook them vs mum whatever husband might suggest and this is not one of those our strawberries are better than yours or my dad could beat up your dad. I never could use that because my dad is more of a stamp collector than a security guard. I think the cold early summer nights with lots of light do some magic to the spud and there is this extraordinary fine depth which is why Northern people are just crazy about their potatoes. There apparently is a Norwegian saying you can use to describe someone very talented “He’s like a potato. He's good in anything.”

Vegetarian Finnish summer soup

In Finland we have a saying, if someone's not particularly pretty "A potato is a flower too".

The original summer soup is made with just potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and peas and that's what I like to stick with. You can chuck other things in it too. But you don’t want to go too crazy (like courgette or aubergine or anything else with a foreign name) because then you lose something of the original simplicity. These were vegetables that people grew themselves and I can’t see my granddad for instance, the one with the hunting dog and rifle in his backpack, growing asparagus. Or artichokes.

The original soup would not have contained soft cheese. It would have been thickened with some plain flour in the milk and given a final touch with a knob of butter. I love the creaminess that the cheese gives and I had this awesome Finnish soft cheese Koskenlaskija (= Log driver – one of the top professions in the country at the time of launch of this cheese I assume) , which works perfectly for this kind of thing (you can use Philly).

Finnish summer soup – Kesäkeitto recipe (Kesä=summer, keitto=soup) (serves 4)

6-7 medium sized new potatoes
3-4 smallish / medium carrots
1 small cauliflower
2 cups of water
1 cup of podded peas
3-4 tablespoons of chopped dill and parsley
2 cups of milk
75 grams of soft cheese
Salt and pepper (whitepepper preferably)

Brush and rinse the potatoes and carrots and chop to half an inch cubes. Cut cauliflower into florets. Put potatoes, carrots and cauliflower in salted water and cook until al denter (10-15 min), add the peas, milk, whitepepper, herbs and cheese. Cook until all vegetables are done and cheese has melted. Check seasoning and serve with dark rye bread.

A vegetarian soup -kesäkeitto, Finnish summer soup

Jo's Kitchen

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  1. I personally think this sounds delicious, and would definitely eat it! I will have to try it an make Tom something else, he won't go anywhere near cauliflower! Your brother sounds like mine as he would have the same reaction ;)

    1. Yes - it's not your typical man grub. Some people also have an aversion to warm milk....

    2. Yes - it's not your typical man grub. Some people also have an aversion to warm milk....

  2. Oooh this looks and sounds so delicious! It is a soup I have not had before but it looks so good! x #SuperSoup

    1. Thanks - it's one of those simple, beautiful recipes full of natures goodness. I don't do it often enough.

    2. Thanks - it's one of those simple, beautiful recipes full of natures goodness. I don't do it often enough.

  3. This sounds delicious. Thank you for entering #SuperSoup