Sinikka's snippets

Finland and travelling, a woman's life, cultures, languages, photography plus family recipes


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Mum’s summer soup

I just love going to our market place (or any farmers’ market) in summer. It’s beautifully colourful with all the fresh, local vegetables, berries, flowers and other goodies. One of my favourite summer morning activities is to cycle there, have a little breakfast at one of the outdoor kiosks there, and then do my shopping. Just got to remember to have plenty of cash as most of the stalls (often run by individual farmers) don’t accept any plastic cards!

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One of our family’s recent favourite summer dishes is a traditional Finnish “summer soup”. Funny enough, I used to hate it as a child, and so did our daughter, as it took both of us quite some time to get the taste of any cooked vegetables. We only ate cold, raw vegetables as children! In fact, once going through some old photographs, I noticed that in very many of them our daughter had a raw carrot in her hands! It was only later that I decided to prepare this soup that used to be one of my mum’s summer favourites. And since then, we’ve got to love its mild, summery taste, too.

The secret is in choosing all fresh ingredients and prepare it from scratch. No tinned peas or ready-cut frozen bags of vegetables for this one! Carrots will be “Bugs Bunny”-style with their green stalks on, and the peas will be individually shelled. Preparing the vegetables takes some time but I find it really relaxing, especially as you get to eat some of them raw while doing it.

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INGREDIENTS (for 4 portions)

  • about 400-500 g of small NEW potatoes
  • 1 fresh cauliflower (c. 400 g)
  • 1 fresh onion
  • 3-4 carrots
  • about 3 dl of fresh peas
  • a handful of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 l vegetable stock
  • 4 dl milk
  • 2 tbsp regular wheat flour
  • 1 knob of butter
  • pinch of salt if needed
  • herbs (eg. parsley or dill)

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THIS IS WHAT YOU DO

  • Peel and slice the carrots, chop the cauliflower into small florets, peel the potatoes and cut them in half, chop the onion (you can also use some of the stalk). I always prefer to use the very small round new potatoes for this soup. Although normally, I would just brush them before boiling, leaving some of the goodness of the peels on, for a soup I prefer peeling them.
  • Cook the vegetables in the vegetable stock for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the peas and the rinsed spinach leaves.
  • Mix the flour and the milk and add into the soup. Cook until all the vegetables are done (not too soft, though, as you’d want a nice mouthfeel!).
  • Add the herbs of your choice. I seem to always go for dill as that’s our traditional herb with new potatoes here in Finland.
  • To finish with, add the knob of butter, which really rounds up the taste nicely.

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Enjoy the summer soup with a cheese sandwich. Here in Finland, it would, of course, be dark, rye bread and some emmental or gouda-style cheese.

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A BOWLFUL OF SUMMER!

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My goulash soup

autumn leavesAs the autumn days are getting colder, it’s lovely to start making warming soups and stews. This is a dish that I have been making for two decades, a real family favourite. I found the recipe in a women’s magazine but the recipe has been adjusted over the years so that now it would be slightly different every time as I don’t necessarily follow strict measurements any more. It is a hearty soup – or maybe more like a stew – and we like it quite hot and spicy, packed with onions and garlic. Everyone can modify the spices to their liking, and some might like to use only half of the meat and add more vegetables.  I usually make a big potful at once as the flavours keep maturing, and the soup is even tastier on the second day!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 big onions, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 800 g thinly stripped beef (we can buy this ready-made in packages here)
  • olive oil for frying
  • 2 x 5 dl water
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 1 tbs wheat flour
  • 1-2 tbs paprika powder
  • 1-2 tbs marjoram
  • 1-2 tbs caraway seeds
  • black pepper / cayenne pepper / chilli powder / fresh chilli (depending on your taste)
  • 8-12 potatoes, peeled and cut into four, or the size wanter (choose a firm variety)
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and cut into strips
  • 2 big beefsteak tomatos, diced (or 3-4 smaller ordinary tomatoes)

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PROCEDURE

  1. In a big saucepan, start frying the onion and garlic, and add the strips of beef. Fry until the meat has turned brown/grey.
  2. Sprinkle the flour and spices into the meat.
  3. Add half of the water (5 dl) and 1 stock cube, and let the meat simmer at low heat for 1 hour. Sounds long but this is really necessary to make the meat nice and tender
  4. In the meantime, prepare the vegetables.
  5. First add the potatoes and the other half of the water and the second stock cube.
  6. Boil for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are ‘al dente’.
  7. Add the peppers and tomatoes and boil for another 5-10 minutes

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Et voilà. A dollop of smetana or some cottage cheese goes well with the soup, and takes the edge off the spiciness.  

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BON APPETIT!

PS. Just realised that the soup actually reflects the delicious, warm autumn colours. Maybe that’s another reason why this season always brings this recipe out!

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