Since the earliest conquests of the Vikings, the bedrock of traditional Nordic fare has been an abundance of fish, seafood, root vegetables, and berries. Lengthy, cold, dark winters meant storing up food supplies from a short growing season. Present day dishes are comprised of some of the same foods that would have been stored in ancient ship galleys as Vikings raided and sailed across the Atlantic or Baltic Sea.
One timeless dish still served today is a satisfying yet light cream-based salmon and root vegetable soup called Lohikeitto. Lohi means salmon in Finnish; keitto means soup. It is a favorite in Finland’s northern most sub-arctic wilderness region, Lapland, where the Tana River flows and reindeer, moose, birds, and gray seal are abundant. The Tana is said to be the best salmon river in Europe and runs into the Tanafjord. The delta is the one of the largest pristine delta areas in Europe.
Finnish salmon soup uses very simple ingredients and certainly is not fancy. But, if you are Viking marauding across Scandinavia or a modern day trapper mushing huskies through rugged terrain checking lines in -45 °F temperatures, Lohikeitto yields the metabolic energy and gut-warming thermal energy you need. It also proves to be good fare on a chilly Sunday after chopping wood for the fireplace, or snowshoeing through the back forty here in Minnesota.
2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
4 cups fish stock (vegetable, or wild turkey stock will also work)
1 lb potatoes, cubed
1 carrot, sliced
1 lb salmon fillet, de-boned, de-skinned and cut into small chunks
1 cup half and half cream
½ cup fresh dill for garnish, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Remove the skin from the salmon, cut into 1-inch chunks and set aside. In a 3-4 quart pot, melt butter and gently sauté the leek until translucent. Add the stock, cubed potatoes, and sliced carrot. Bring to a low boil and cook until potato is fork-tender. Pour cream into a separate bowl and slowly whisk in about ½ – ¾ cups of the hot broth. Then stir warm mixture into pot. (This keeps the cream from curdling when added to the pot.) Gently lay in the salmon chunks and cook about 5 minutes, or until salmon is done. Sprinkle on chopped dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh kale, rye bread, or toast, a squish of lemon and a few radish sprouts if desired.