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Salmon Soup

(recipe, Nigel Slater)

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If ever you find yourself in Hakaniemi Market in central Helsinki at lunchtime, you will do well to join the local shoppers in having a bowl of fish soup. If there are no tables left, then perch on a high stool at one of the indoor market's long counters, where you will be jostled by shoppers laden with bags of smoked salmon and crispbreads the the size of steering wheels. Whether the color of a house brick, or ivory-hued and topped with a sprig of dill the size of a Christmas tree, these soups are made in the market in kitchens the size of a broom cupboard. The best of them in a week's worth of eating was pale and mild, a beautiful bowl of salmon, rutabaga, and leek, its creamy depths spiked with lemon and cubes of tomato. There were a couple of scallops in there too, possibly as much by accident as by design. The bowls here are deep and generously filled, and they come with slices of rye bread as sweet as gingerbread and a little dish of butter scattered with coarse flakes of sea salt. This is not the classic Finnish lohikeitto but the delicious interpretation I ate in the market.


  1. 1 medium-to-large onion
  2. 1 leek
  3. 3 Tbsp. (50 grams) butter
  4. 1 cauliflower (a generous 1 pound or 500 grams)
  5. 1½ lb. (750 grams) waxy potatoes
  6. 12 oz. (350 grams) rutabaga
  7. 5 cups (1.25 liters) water
  8. 2 tomatoes
  9. 1¼ lb. (600 grams) salmon fillet
  10. Scant ½ cup (100 milliliters) heavy cream
  11. Small bunch of dill
  12. Lemon juice, to taste


  1. Peel the onion and coarsely chop it. Chop and thoroughly rinse the leek.
  2. Melt the butter in a deep, heavy pan and add the onion and leek. Let them cook over low-to-moderate heat, stirring regularly so they do not color. They should be soft enough to crush between your finger and thumb, so take your time with this.
  3. Bring a pan of water to a boil. Break the cauliflower into large florets and cook them in the boiling water till just tender. (They will get a little more cooking when they are added to the soup.) Drain and set aside.
  4. Peel and coarsely dice the potatoes and rutabaga. Add them to the onion and leek, and cook over low-to-moderate heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
  5. Pour in the water, bring to a boil, and season lightly with salt. Turn the heat down to a simmer and partially cover with a lid.
  6. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the soup, followed a few minutes later by the cauliflower.
  7. When the rutabaga and potatoes are fully tender, cut the salmon into large pieces and lower them into the soup. Season with pepper and let the salmon cook for about 5 minutes, until it is just done.
  8. Pour in the cream and mix in gently (you don't want the salmon to break up). Chop a couple of teaspoons of dill and stir it in, reserving some sprigs for the top. Stir in a little of the lemon juice to taste, then ladle into bowls and add the sprigs of dill.