January 06, 2011

Finnish Food: Salmon Soup and Other Staples

I am often asked what Finnish food is like. Traditionally, Finnish food was very seasonal; even when I was small there were no Finnish tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. in winter, but nowadays the greenhouses provide these vegetables all year around. In winter, the primary purpose for food was to provide energy in the harsh climate, and many traditional recipes are simple dishes consisting of meat and potato.

I realised that living in Australia has changed the way I think about food. In Australia all fruit and vegetables are sold seasonally and I have learned to appreciate and value this. I was surprised to find exotic fruit sold in Finland in the midst of winter (all imported of course), and although I understand the need for imported goods, I think seasonal eating could be embraced more like back in the old days. Fortunately, local food movement is growing in popularity, and Finns are rediscovering the ingredients naturally grown in Finland.

Here are a few staples you might find in Finnish kitchens. The salmon soup has always been a staple in my family, whereas pyttipannu has been made less often (mum couldn't even remember the last time she had had pyttipannu!). There are many others, of course, but these dishes are what we enjoyed whilst in Finland.

Finnish Salmon Soup

800ml water
1/2 tsp whole allspice
5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1 onion, finely chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
piece of celeriac, finely chopped
400g salmon fillet, boned, cut into chunks
200ml cream
pinch of sea salt

Bring the water to boil and add the allspice. Add the potatoes, onion, parsnip and celeriac and cook until almost tender. Add the salmon pieces, cream and salt and let simmer until the fish has cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve with Finnish rye or flat bread.

Merimiespata (Sailor's Stew) is made out of beef, potatoes, onion and carrots that are cooked tender in stock and seasoned simply with salt and black pepper.

Pyttipannu is made out of cooked potato, onion and Finnish sausage (lenkkimakkara), seasoned with salt and pepper and fried until golden. This dish is served with a fried egg.



  1. Lovely food! So comforting and marvelously humble.



  2. I would love to make salmon soup one day. I do not know much about Finnish food, so I can learn from you.

  3. i never tried Finnish food before but i am already loving the sound of this dish:) thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. What a lovely trio of recipes! That salmon soup sounds really wonderful!

  5. The soup sounds so comforting. But I can't stop looking at that perfectly cooked fried egg!

  6. Now this is a Finnish soup that is new to me as Mr NQN's family are vegetarian and they don't cook fish! Oh what is that little wooden box? Is it a toothpick holder?

  7. What a nourishing soup! Always love reading about your Finnish meals =)

  8. Your soup looks great! I have really been craving a good soup, despite the fact that it is summer. Although, it would have to be the coolest summer in Brisbane that I can remember.

  9. vau, uskomatonta. maailma on niin pieni! oon seuraillu nuita aasialaisia australian ruokabloggareita ja olit yhdessä kuvassa linkin kera ja klikkasin enkä odottanut löytäväni suomalaista, en etenkään lappilaista ruokaa ja bloggaajaa australialaisten seasta! itsekin olen napapiiriltä kotoisin, tällä hetkellä espanjassa asuva lapin tyttö. maailma on pieni. :)

    hyvältä näyttää!

  10. Kiva postaus! Nyt mullekin maistuisi lohisoppa! Ja kuvasi ovat niin nätit!

  11. Yes, those look like they're just about some of the most satifying winter meals around - and I imagine the Finnish (Fins?) are pretty good at winter meals!

  12. OMG I had Pyttipannu the first time I was in Finland at a restaurant and it's SOOOO GOOD! Like a big fry up! Are you back in Oz? Hope you arrived home safely :)

  13. Thanks for another brilliant post about the food and culture of your home country. Looking forward to more.

  14. You have a beautiful blog! My husband is Finnish, but we live in the U.S. now, we have three kids and I want to make sure they grow up with Finnish food, and that they have a record of our recipes as they grow up, so I have started cookingfinland.blogspot.com. We started with the traditional Christmas dishes, and now are moving on to other traditional and popular dishes.

  15. I loved the salmon soup and have written about it on my blog today. I hope this is ok with you.

  16. Fabulous blog, you have helped me reconnect with my finnish heritage.

  17. I would love to try this salmon soup. I have everything but parsnip and celeriac. Do you think its possible without those?

    1. Yes, you can make it without those - they will just give the soup more flavour.




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