Kesäkeitto is part of the Finnish poor man’s kitchen

In the 1940s, kesäkeitto (lit. ‘summer soup’) was among Finland’s most popular home-cooked dishes. Traditional kesäkeitto is a milk-based soup prepared of early summer vegetables. In this recipe, its flavour is ennobled with the Swiss Le Gruyére AOP cheese.

Swedish-speaking Finns call the soup snålsoppa, snål meaning stingy. Everything was rationed due to the shortage those days, but you could usually get ingredients for a vegetable soup from your own garden right after Midsummer. And, in the best case, milk from your own cows as well. While the classic recipe entails potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, peas and herbs, you can also use any other vegetables of your own choosing for the soup.

Kesäkeitto is one of the most misunderstood Finnish dishes. If your opinion of this traditional vegetable dish is based on your experiences back in school, you may be totally oblivious to the real delicacy that is kesäkeitto. Nevertheless, the dish polarizes the people: it is either loved or hated.

6 to 8 servings
400 g early potatoes
4 early carrots
200 g early cabbage
200 g cauliflower
200 g Romanesco broccoli
6 radishes
3 stems of (green) onions
1 1/2 l water
allspice or black pepper, coarsely ground
75 g peas
1 tbsp wheat flour
50 g butter
1 l whole milk
2 dl Le Gruyére AOP cheese, grated
chopped lovage, dill or parsley
In addition
Le Gruyére AOP cheese, grated
  1. Peel and slice the carrots, chop the cauliflower into florets, cut up the washed potatoes into wedges and finely chop the onion stems.
  2. Heat the water to boiling and add the vegetables into the pot. Let them boil for approx. 15 minutes.
  3. Add peas into the mix. If you are using sugar pea pods, chop them.
  4. Mix the wheat flour and the grated cheese into the milk, heat to boiling and add into the soup. Boil until the vegetables are well done but still feel a bit chewy.
  5. Add plenty of chopped vegetable spices into the soup. Serve the soup with grated Le Gruyére AOP cheese.
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