July 3, 2012

Summer Soup (Kesäkeitto)

July 3, 2012
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There are dishes of collective emotional attachment in every culture. Summer soup or kesäkeitto, as it is called in Finnish, is such. In the country where a summer season is far too short and offers barely a crop a year, every bite of local harvest is honoured. When the first baby potatoes reach farmers market, people rush to buy them, even, if they cost 16 € per kilo! There is something primeval about cooking and eating native produce.
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In order to appreciate Finnish cuisine, which is plain and modest, one should challenge to live here, at least, through a winter. After nine dark months of vacuum packed and gassed greenhouse fruits and vegetables flown unripe from Spain and Italy, a humble potato with a pinch of salt, dab of butter and a stalk of dill will taste like a gourmet delight.
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The basic summer soup is made of vegetables, milk, butter, salt and dill. If I remember correctly, my grandmother used allspice, too. She would unfold a clean linen cloth onto a table in the shadow corner of the patio, set the plates, spoons and glasses, and carry outside a serving bowl of soup, fresh rye-bread, butter and lemonade. I can still hear our lunchtime conversation mixed with the purling of a small fountain, rustling of garden plants and chirping of birds.
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Another unbeatable bonus about Finnish summer is wild berries. Strawberries come first, then blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and cloudberries.
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These wild strawberries were picked from a gentle forest hill behind our home. Nothing more than sweet whipped cream is needed for a perfect dessert.
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Sophistication is compensated by quality in simple cooking. If the ingredients are first class and treated with proper care and skill, the experience will be satisfactory. Attention to detail always increases value. It also gives a personal touch.
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Happy summer!

48 comments:

  1. A wonderful soup! So pretty and refined looking.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Such a stunning summer post! Love the look of the soup, and those gorgeous tiny berries, and ah the exotic blooms. And oh, good to catch a glimpse of you Laxmi... wearing a sari? awesome! :)

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  3. your photos and stories are aways inspiring but this time i couldn't stop staring at the picture of you or your friend wearing the green saree! It's a cotton one I think .. kind of reminded me of my mom :)

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  4. Thanks! Yes, it is an old cotton saree. I use it as a "kitchen" saree, because it isn't very representative in public for having soaked the deep-frying fumes of two decades :-). The material is very thin and breathing though, perfect for summer. I can't remember where I got it, because it is not a Bengali saree. Someone must've given it to me.

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  5. A luscious glimpse of summer, pregnant with natures bounty, just intoxicating!

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  6. Oh my, you remebered me how as a child I was also swinging wild strawberries on the bent!
    So beautiful and warm. Everything - the story and the pictures! :)

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  7. Tkank you for the story! So nicely written and garnished with peaceful, amazing photos:)
    Greetings!

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  8. That soup sounds like an amazing use of the new season's vegetables. I've been to Finland once--in January, and we loved it--but this makes me imagine how it could be in the summer, with gentle breezes, herbs sprouting, and birch trees leafing out over your head. :)

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  9. thats such a simple looking saree. Loved the photos. Inspiring post. IT had me at the very first line - There are dishes of collective emotional attachment in every culture. so well said.

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  10. I always love your posts Lakshmi!! But this is simply exceptional. That photograph of you in a saree with Peas in the Pallu is so lovely!!! I just couldn't take my eyes off it :)

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  11. thank you :) I know what I will make for a dinner tomorrow :)

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  12. Your pictures amaze me. This recipe is lovely!

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  13. My favourite parts ~ the soft green sari, the little berries on grass, yumm....just YUM!

    Heidi

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  14. Lovely Lakshmi... We have a similar dish - instead of the whole milk we use coconut milk and it tastes heavenly.
    Thank you for a wonderful post!

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  15. Beautiful... Your photos smell like summer cottage at my grandmother... Brilliant! :)

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  16. Thanks!

    Anu - coconut milk instead of whole milk sounds perfect!

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  17. Oh wow, you make me miss my roots so much!!! Luckily I have the Finnish ahomansikka (wild strawberry) growing right here in my Amsterdam garden, too :D
    As a child I didn't like kesäkeitto, but the photos make me curious to give it a try again - the added rosepetals make it look divine!!!
    I love your style!!!!!

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  18. loved the post - simple dishes with fresh produce indeed have a gourmet value ; nice recipe for the soup

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  19. Love your saree, love your work, love that smile......love you!!!!!!!

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  20. I love the picture of you (I think) smiling! It's such a happy post with the perfect summery colors and feeling - just like the soup. I am amazed at how you put everything together to convey one post.. and it all blends together to tell a story. It's such a pleasure coming here every time.:)

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  21. I don't think have ever seen such a pretty bowl of soup! Saved for the onset of the southern hemisphere summer :)

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  22. Simply gorgeous!! Those wild strawberries are precious :)

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  23. Beautiful blog...and smile! :)

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  24. AMAZING! Your photos not only have convinced me to live in Finland, but have converted me to vegetarian diet!

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  25. Very pretty soup, looks delicious.

    You are welcome to join in my monthly food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here for entry details and current theme offering a new theme each month. All bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

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  26. I would love living in Finland! I would be happy to spend a year round there... and learn more about your culture and your cooking: this soup, by the way looks gorgeous in its simplicity....
    with love
    Roberta

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  27. How gorgeous, dear Lakshmi! Those berries look so cute and adorable. Beautiful post, as always.

    Best,
    Sihi

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  28. Oh Lakshmi you are wearing a saree!! and one to match the peas:) is that a co incidence? I am thinking it is. In lightning speed for some reason I saw my ma wearing these very light cotton sarees when she cooked in the heat of the kitchen with her "aNchal" tucked around her waist. What a shame i am not comfortable in saree.. foregt wearing and cooking in it. It was bound to happen today.. I cannot but think of her since yesterday T kept asking about her.

    Such beautiful memories and pf course the photographs.. and the soup I would just love!! so wholesome and fresh.The photographs make me think of coconut milk for the soup. I guess it may be subbed. Ma used to make this kind f light soup in the mild Bengal winter, when we got all these vegetables.. with no hing or kala namak tho.. but with milk.

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  29. Beautiful post. I love the photography!

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  30. You have such a beautiful blog! The summer soup is so incredibly visually impressive, and sounds just as pleasing to the taste buds too!

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  31. Lovely series of shots! I love the peas in the dress/apron shot - absolutely gorgeous. And what a recipe. I love soups like this.

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  32. You make me hungry, Lakshmi! I loved the way you described the winter and why the potato is so delicious. I have never thought it that way, but I think you absolutely right.

    After a long dark winter every drop of light is perfect! Beautiful as usual. Now I really grave for kesäkeitto. Never been a big fan, but your photos and the description... YUM!

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  33. I don't know how I missed this post! I really love your people involving pictures. It adds such an amazing touch. I'll have to try it when I have someone around who can post / take pictures. :)

    I love the wild berries in Scandinavia. I remember going on many berry expeditions. Always a fun time in the forest!

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  34. Wow your blog is gorgeous! The pictures are so clean and you write beautifully!! I also have a blog lizzyw.com - you recipes are inspiring, I am going to try this summer soup tonight!

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  35. How wonderful to be reminded of home!! Kiitos!!
    Sinikka from Canada

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  36. Thank you for visiting!

    Sinikka - ole hyvä! Suomen kesä on jo lopuillaan. Mutta syksykin on kaunis. Kaikkea hyvää!

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  37. We make this in Nova Scotia! We call it Hodge Podge.

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  38. OMG! The soup looks so beautiful! So pretty and delicate! XX
    http://themusingsofateenagemind.blogspot.co.uk/

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  39. this is all too beautiful to be true. your soup is so pretty, sosososo pretty. and the tiny strawberries on the straw seem coming to the world from a fairy tale book. loving every single image.

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  40. Pamela BevansAugust 20, 2012

    I remember my Finnish grandmother making this soup for us as children in San Francisco in the 1960s. Thank you for the memories. I am making it today.

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  41. Thanks.

    Pamela - glad to hear about your grandmother.

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  42. Great pictures, you really know how to present your food. Thanks for the ideas to really round out the summer as it comes to a close.

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  43. What a lovely post, in every sense. The photos and text are wonderful, and the recipe looks simply amazing. What a great soup to really take a moment and *savor* simple, fresh food. Thank you!

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  44. This is one of my favorite soups, and in Finland it is eaten in the summer when you get fresh new vegetables.

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