Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto) Recipe

Use homemade fish stock to make this delicious Finnish salmon soup.

May/June 2017

  • Made with salmon, cream and dill, this fresh soup is light yet hearty.
    Photo by Stefan Wettainen
  • Dill features heavily in Nordic cuisine.
    Photo by iStock/Floortje

Total Hands-On Time: 1 hr

Preparation Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 50 min

Yield: 4 servings

The secret of this much-loved Finnish soup is good fresh salmon and a good fish stock. With these on hand, it’s a snap to prepare, and it comes with a bonus: Whoever makes the soup gets to eat the slice of buttered rye bread that has soaked up the stock’s goodness. Though you can buy decent fish stock, making your own takes only half an hour, well worth it for the depth of flavor it adds.

Many recipes for lohikeitto are heavy with cream. This one is on the lighter side, but you can add more to your liking (you may need to add more salt). If you can find some bright orange trout roe, add a dollop to each bowl.


For Stock

• 1 salmon head (about 3 pounds), cleaned, with gills removed
• 1 small yellow onion, halved
• 1 carrot, peeled and halved
• 1 bay leaf
• 8 black peppercorns
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 8 cups water

For Soup

• 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon salted butter
• 4 boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
• Pinch of ground allspice
• 6 cups salmon stock or prepared fish stock
• Salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• 1 thick slice sour rye bread, liberally buttered on one side
• 1 pound salmon fillet, skin removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 6 to 8 tablespoons heavy cream
• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
• 1 (2-ounce) jar trout roe (optional)


1. Place stock ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, partly covered, for 30 minutes. Strain with a fine-mesh sieve into a large Pyrex measuring cup or other bowl, and set aside. Discard solids.

2. In a large stockpot over medium-low heat, sauté onion in butter until soft but not brown, 6 to 7 minutes.

3. Add potatoes and allspice, then stir in stock, 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place bread on surface of stock, buttered side up, and cover pot. Simmer until potatoes are just cooked, about 10 minutes.

4. With slotted spatula, remove bread (and eat it!). At this point, you can either continue making the soup or turn off heat and let it sit until almost ready to serve. About 10 minutes before serving, return soup to a simmer. Drop in salmon and cook very briefly, until fish is barely opaque, just 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Quickly stir in cream and most of the dill (reserving a bit for garnish), making sure not to let soup boil. Taste and add liberal grinds of pepper and more salt, to taste. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish each with fresh dill and a spoonful of trout roe.

Take a culinary trip with more Nordic food in The Nordic Diet: Healthy Eating with an Environmental Bent.

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