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Lohikeitto: Finnish Salmon Soup

Seafood Soups

Lohikeitto, a Finnish salmon soup, is certainly not one of the more widely known seafood soup recipes. But it has many similarities to the more popular fish chowder. It’s creamy, it’s really simple to make, and many of the ingredients are the same. I’ve been wanting to make it for many years but hesitated because I thought it might be too similar to other fish chowder recipes, especially, of course, salmon chowder.

But I recently made Fiskesuppe, a Norwegian fish soup, which also has similarities to chowder, but enough subtle differences to make it truly unique. It’s in those subtleties that we often find the true character of recipes, what defines them, and what makes them distinct from similar regional recipes. And that finally inspired me to make Lohikeitto.

Lohikeitto, Finnish salmon soup

What is Lohikeitto?

In the Finnish language, Lohi means salmon and Keitto means soup. So Lohikeitto is a Finnish salmon soup that is also made with leeks, potatoes, carrots, cream, and dill. It’s a close cousin to salmon chowder, and a sibling to other Nordic salmon soups including both Fiskesuppe and Laxsoppa, a Swedish salmon soup.

What Makes Lohikeitto Different Than Salmon Chowder?

For starters, Lohikeitto is not made with a thickener like a roux and therefore has a slightly thinner consistency. Another big difference is that it doesn’t have the meaty, smokey flavor of chowder as it does not include any bacon (or salt pork), a defining feature of most chowder recipes. For this reason, I find Lohikeitto to have a purer, more straightforward salmon flavor. So if you really love salmon, this is one of the best salmon soup recipes to make!

Another difference is that Lohikeitto typically includes leeks instead of onions (though it’s fine to substitute onions). It also almost always includes carrots, which are not as ubiquitous in chowder recipes. And you’ll often find allspice, a wonderfully warming, grounding, and earthy spice.

Finally, Lohikeitto is actually easier to make than salmon chowder, and that’s saying a lot because almost any fish chowder recipe is pretty simple.

What Makes Lohikeitto Different Than Fiskesuppe?

Though I could be wrong about this, Lohikeitto seems to be more consistently simple. Fiskesuppe can be simple too but there are many elaborate versions that rival things like Bouillabaisse. I have not come across any such versions of Lohikeitto. If you’re aware of more intricate approaches, feel free to share in the comments!

Fiskesuppe is also a little more liberal with its choice of fish (such as cod and monkfish), often includes shrimp and other shellfish, as well as seasonings like vinegar and sugar.

Lohikeitto, Finnish salmon soup pin

More Seafood Soup Recipes from Around the World

Atlantic Salmon vs. Wild Salmon

Always choose wild salmon, which only comes from the Pacific, when possible. There is no such thing as wild Atlantic salmon (at least here in the United States). The few remaining wild Atlantic salmon are endangered species and all recreational and commercial fishing is strictly prohibited. Sadly, we have destroyed the native wild Atlantic salmon populations on the East Coast due to pollution, overdevelopment, and damming of the rivers.

And so now we have farmed Atlantic salmon instead, most of which is imported from places like Canada, Scotland, Norway, and Chile. Yes, Chile, which means Atlantic salmon is now being raised in the Pacific.

This is a very controversial topic. Many believe fish farms are necessary to feed the world.

I do not. This phrase, “feed the world” always comes from those who stand to benefit, namely the salmon farms which have in the past 30 years become big business. Please understand that most, if not all farmed salmon is shipped to wealthy nations, and places like cruise ships, resorts, and high-end tourist destinations.

In my opinion, fish farming is fish factory farming. It creates very similar problems to land-based factory farming such as the widespread use of antibiotics and the concentration of waste. Issues unique to salmon farming include sea lice, processed feed, and escaped farmed species that both compete and breed with native wild salmon populations.

These issues are a bit outside the scope of this post, but I always think it’s important to know where our food comes from and encourage my readers to support the most sustainable choices. And to educate yourself! If you’d like to read further about this subject, I highly recommend this article from the BBC about the problems with farmed Scottish salmon and this more general article from Time magazine.

Homemade Fish Stock vs. Store-Bought Fish Stock

Any Lohikeito recipe, or for that matter, any fish soup recipe will be greatly enhanced by the addition of homemade fish stock (also called fish broth). Contrary to popular belief, fish stock is incredibly easy to make! It’s also a lot less time-consuming than things like chicken and beef stock, pork stock, or any stock using land-based animals. My in-depth post about fish broth includes a video of how to make it.

If you can access fish frames (which include all the parts except the fillets), especially salmon frames, and make your own stock, it will make this Finnish salmon soup recipe that much better.

If you can’t and/or just don’t want to spend the extra time, unfortunately, I can only recommend one store-bought seafood broth product, Aneto Fish Broth. It’s a high-quality broth that’s a little pricier than other brands but it’s well worth it. If you can’t find it in a store near you, you can easily order it online.

Please avoid fish stock cubes or other store-bought seafood broths and stocks. I’ve tried them all and can say with confidence, that none of them are very good, with the exception of Aneto.

OK, let’s finally move on to making the recipe (kudos if you actually read all the way here without hitting the “jump to recipe” button).

Lohikeitto Ingredient List

  • 2 tablespoons butter – a good-quality grass-fed butter will give the soup a deep yellowish hue
  • 1 leek – OK to substitute half of a yellow onion
  • 2 carrots – peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds potatoes – any medium starch variety is good like Yukon golds
  • allspice – 1/2 teaspoon ground or 5 to 6 whole berries. I prefer the latter.
  • 4 cups fish stock – homemade fish stock is always best, otherwise, Aneto Fish Broth is excellent
  • 1 pound fresh salmon – always choose wild, if possible.
  • 1 to 2 cups heavy cream – never use whole milk (see note below)
  • fresh dill – be sure to get fresh dill, not dried dill
  • salt and pepper

How to Make Lohikeitto

Step 1: Saute leeks in butter

Lohikeitto, Finnish salmon soup step 1: saute leeks

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute for about 5 minutes until they’re softened and fragrant.

Step 2: Add the carrots, potatoes, and allspice

step 2: add other veggies

Continue to saute for a few more minutes.

Step 3: Add fish stock

step 3: add fish broth

Add your fish stock and raise the heat to high. Bring it to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and continue to simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and cooked through.

Step 4: Add the salmon and then the heavy cream

step 4: add salmon and cream

Add the salmon first, and simmer gently for 3 to 5 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through. Be careful not to boil the soup too aggressively as this will overcook the salmon.

Then add 1 cup of heavy cream. Stir it in and taste. Does it taste rich and full-flavored? It should! If not, add up to another cup of heavy cream.

Step 5: Add the dill

step 5: add dill

Turn off the heat and stir the dill into the soup. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. That’s it! Ladle the soup into individual bowls and season, to taste, with additional fresh dill, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Recipe Notes and Variations

1. If you get salmon fillets with the skin on, don’t remove the skin!

Everybody and their mother says to remove the skin. I don’t understand this recommendation. There are good healthy fats in salmon skin! The skin also helps to keep the salmon a little more tender. You’ll notice these pieces will be juicier and more full-flavored. Make sure you have a good sharp knife to cut through the skin when dicing the salmon into cubes and chunks.

2. Do not use milk in place of heavy cream

Today’s supermarket milks are too overly processed and don’t contain enough fat to flavor the soup. Half and half is closer to the taste and texture of real, old-fashioned milk. That said, I’d still recommend heavy cream as the best choice for overall flavor.

3. Finnish salmon soup always tastes better the next day

Most soups intensify in flavor over time. This is known as curing or aging. It’s not that Lohikeitto will taste lousy immediately off the stovetop. It will definitely be delicious! But you’ll definitely notice a more rounded, fuller flavor on succeeding days.

Printable Lohikeitto Recipe

Lohikeitto (Finnish Salmon Soup)

Lohikeitto is an easy creamy salmon soup made with leeks, carrots, potatoes, cream, and dill.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
CourseMain Course, Soup
CuisineFinnish, Scandinavian
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Servings4 servings
Calories571kcal
AuthorCraig Fear
Cost$30

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSPs butter
  • 1 leek top green leafy part removed, bottom white part sliced into rounds
  • 2 carrots peeled and sliced into quarter inch rounds
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds potatoes peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5 to 6 whole allspice
  • 4 cups fish stock
  • 1 pound salmon wild, sliced into rouch 1-inch pieces
  • 1 to 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh dill loosely packed and chopped, or more!
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a large stockpot, heat a few tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute for about 5 minutes until they’re softened and fragrant.
  • Add the carrots, potatoes, and allspice. Continue to saute for a few more minutes.
  • Add your fish stock and raise the heat to high. Bring it to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and continue to simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and cooked through.
  • Add the salmon. Simmer gently for 3 to 5 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through. Be careful not to boil the soup too aggressively as this will overcook the salmon.
  • Add 1 cup of heavy cream. Stir it in and taste. Add up to 1 more cup of heavy cream.
  • Turn off the heat, add the dill, and stir it thoroughly into the soup.
  • Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Ladle into individual bowls and season, to taste with additional dill, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups (1 bowl) | Calories: 571kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 926mg | Potassium: 1527mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 7481IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 190mg | Iron: 4mg


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Lohikeitto: Finnish Salmon Soup
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About the Author

Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.

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