Finnish Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto)

Say "hei" to Finland's winter and cold-weather obsession, big bowls of steaming salmon chowder packed with fresh fish, potatoes and carrots. In Finland, Salmon Soup is home-cooked comfort food, some even call it "Finland's soul food". I've been making a salmon chowder soup since living in Finland as an exchange student but recently overhauled the recipe to be more authentic, to bump up the salmon flavor, to make it something worth obsessing over.

Finnish Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto) ♥ Finland's 'soul food,' steaming bowls of salmon and potato in a creamy broth.

Whole Food, Simply Prepared & Made from Scratch. Beautiful Color! A Winter Classic in Finland. Weeknight Easy. Dinner Party Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. So Good!!

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What Is the Happiest Place on Earth? Finland!

Who's heard? The United Nations named the northern country of Finland as the "happiest country on earth". Again. In fact? For the last six years.

MORE INFO The Finnish Secret to Happiness? Knowing When You Have Enough from the New York Times, April 1, 2023 (No, it's not an April fools joke!)

This proclamation perplexes those of us who have "Finn in our heart" if not "Finn in our blood" since Finns are better known for quiet reserve (some call it "gloominess") than deep-seated joy.

Me, I'm going with "happy" and credit three reasons: very good bread, especially its unparalleled rye bread; very good cheese; and one excellent soup, lohikeitto, that's "salmon" (lohi, pronounced LOW-hee, rhymes with bogey) and "soup" (keitto, pronounced KAY-toe, rhymes with NATO, which really works just now since in 2023, Finland is the newest member of NATO, the North Atlantic Treat Organization).

Get Happy?
Try More Favorite Foods in Finland

~ Coffee! (Kahvia) ~
~ Finn Crisp with Marmalade & Cheese (Ruiskeksejä Marmeladilla ja Juustolla)~
~ Oven Pancakes (Uuni Pannukakku)~
~ Finnish Rye Bread (Ruisleipä) ~
~ Squeaky Cheese (Leipäjuusto or Uunijuusto) ~
~ Homemade Finnish Mustard () ~
~ Finnish Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto) ~
~ Finnish Fermented Mead (Sima) ~
~ Scandinavian Split-Pea Soup (Hernekeitto) ~
~ Spinach Soup with Perfect Hard-Cooked Eggs (Pinaattikeitto) ~
~ Finnish Summer Soup (Kesäkeitto) ~
~ New Potatoes (Uusia Perunoita) ~
~ Sandwich Cake (Voileipäkakku)~
~ Finnish Hot Dogs (Nakki) ~
~ Blood Sausage (Verimakkaraa)~
~ Macaroni Casserole (Makaronilaatikko)~
~ Karelian Pasties with Egg Butter (Karjalanpiirakka with Munavoi) ~
~ Finnish Gravlax (Cured Salmon, often called "Smoked Salmon") ~
~ Finnish Meatballs with Lingonberries (Lihapullat) ~
~ Finnish Rosolli Salad (Rosolli) ~
~ Rye Porridge (Mämmi) ~

~ Birch-Sweetened Chewing Gum (Xylitol)~
~ Long Drink (Grapefruit Soda) (Longkero) ~
~ Fazer Chocolate (especially Blue!) ~
~ Finnish Hot Red Mulled Wine (Glögi) ~
~ Finnish Braided Bread with Cardamon (Pulla) ~
~ Cinnamon Buns (Korvapuusti) ~
~ Finnish Blueberry Tart (Mustikkapiirakka) ~
~ Rice Pudding ~
~ Finnish Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake (Mansikkakakku) ~
~ Warm Fruit Soup (Kisselli) ~
~ Sugared Deep-Fried Donuts (Munkki) ~
~ Finnish Christmas Stars (Joulutorttu) ~
~ Semolina Berry Pudding ("Air" Pudding) (Vispipuuro or Marjapuuro or Ilmapuuro) ~
~ Salty Licorice (Salmiakki)~

~ Finnish recipes ~

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Finnish Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto) ♥ Finland's 'soul food,' steaming bowls of salmon and potato in a creamy broth.

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(formerly titled Salmon Chowder)

Hands-on time: 1 hour
Time-to-table: 1-1/4 hours
Makes a generous 9 cups

For a quick but sumptuous weeknight meal, prep the fish and make the stock the day before.
  • 1 pound (450g) or 1-1/2 pounds (680g) salmon filets, skins on (see ALANNA's TIPS)
  • 5 cups water
  • 10 whole allspice
  • Salmon Skins
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup (112g) finely diced leek (best) or onion
  • 1 cup (112g) finely diced fennel (best) or celery
  • 2 cups (225g) finely diced carrot

  • 1 pound (450g) mini yellow-skinned potatoes (or Yukon gold potatoes), cut into small bites
  • 4 cups Quick Salmon Stock (a bit more is fine too)
  • Salmon Skins
  • 1 tablespoon (yes, tablespoon) salt, plus more to taste (assumes Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, use less Morton's Kosher Salt or fine sea salt)

  • Salmon Pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Additional salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste
  • Fresh dill, for serving

PREP THE SALMON (May be done ahead of time.) Allow time for removing the pin bones and skins (see TIPS), it may take longer than you think. Have the pot to make Quick Salmon Stock handy, go ahead, add the water and allspice too; don't bring the water to a boil until the skins are in, though.

To remove the pin bones, rub your fingers across the flesh side of the filets, feeling for the tips of bones; once you find one, there will be more, all in a row. Use a small tweezers (see TIPS) to grasp each bone's tip and gently pull the bone out of the fish; small bits of flesh may remain attached, throw these into the stock pot.

To skin the salmon, find the midline in each filet and use a sharp knife to cut through the flesh down to the skin (but not through the skin) following the midline. At an angle, insert the knife into the cut down to the skin, slide the knife between the skin and flesh, separating the two. This is easier than it might sound, soon you'll be a practiced fishmonger!

Throw the skins into the stock pot. Cut the salmon into bite-size chunks (about one inch) and refrigerate until it's time to add the fish.

MAKE THE QUICK SALMON STOCK (May be done ahead of time.) Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and let the stock simmer for about 20 minutes; a bit longer is okay too, just don't let the water evaporate (see TIPS). If made ahead of time, refrigerate until ready to make the soup, including the allspice and skins. Before continuing, best you can, pick out the allspice.

MAKE THE SOUP Prep the onion, fennel or celery, and carrot before beginning to cook.

In a large, heavy pot, sauté the onion, fennel or celery and carrot in butter on medium heat just until beginning to soften, just until beginning to turn golden. Add the potatoes, the Quick Salmon Stock, the salmon skins from the Stock and bring to a boil; everything should be barely submerged in the Stock, if it's not, add just enough extra Stock or hot water to cover. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.

[SALT TIP While the Stock comes to a boil, stir in the salt. Now comes a really important step: taste the Stock! Does it taste good? Probably not yet. Add more salt, a half teaspoon or a teaspoon at a time, stirring it in before tasting again. Remember, the salt is seasoning an entire pound of vegetables, a pound of potatoes, a pound (or more) of salmon plus a quart of liquid and none of the ingredients include added salt. So. It's okay to be generous, to your own taste, of course without being skimpy.]

[TIMING TIP Once the potatoes are cooked, it's okay to pause for an hour or so right on the stove, useful if wanting to cook ahead as much as possible if having guests for dinner or waiting on someone to get home. Just turn off the heat, keep covered. If you do this, bring the soup back to temperature before finishing.]

Pull the Salmon Skins out of the pot and discard.

Gently stir in the Salmon Pieces. Turn up the heat a little to bring the stock back to a simmer and let simmer for 5 - 10 minutes until the salmon pieces are cooked through and tender. Stir in the cream and let heat through but do not allow to boil. Taste and adjust the salt. Stir in a little white pepper. Is it delicious? Then it's done!

TO SERVE Ladle soup into large, shallow bowls and sprinkle with fresh dill.

ALANNA's TIPS A pound of salmon makes for a lovely fish chowder. But honestly? For a real indulgence, start with a pound and a half, it makes for a filling, meaty soup, especially if it's the only thing on the menu. FYI in my experience, salmon skin is about 15% of the weight of a filet. Whole Foods and some other fish-sellers will remove the pin bones and skin the salmon, saving a ton of fiddly time. Salmon is traditional (and exalted) in Finland but think of this recipe as a "fish chowder," knowing the pot will also welcome a mix of salmon and other fish (our favorite is cod); other fish on their own such as cod, halibut, perch, pike, walleye, burbot, lake trout, large mouth bass and more. To remove the pin bones, you may already have a tool on hand. Eyebrow tweezers can work, so can needle-nosed pliers. That said, we eat enough salmon that special fish tweezers (affiliate link) have earned a spot in my kitchen. We are big fans of Sitka Seafood Market, a subscription delivery service of sustainable wild-caught fish from Alaska. (This is NOT a sponsored post. We've been paying customers for a couple of years and love-love-love having fish in the freezer for quick, healthy suppers.) I bring this up because occasionally, the monthly delivery will include ground salmon which makes excellent Finnish Salmon Soup. Just use your fingers to form tiny little salmon meatballs. If you plan to simmer the Quick Fish Stock longer than 20 minutes (I'll some times let it go as long as an hour), consider starting with six or even seven cups of water. This allows for more evaporation, you still want to end up with four cups of Salmon Stock. For a dramatic appearance, I some times throw in a few fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise, then include one or two in each bowl of soup, an ingredient as "garnish". This soup tastes quite fresh when eaten immediately but does develop more nuance and depth when allowed to rest for a day for the flavors to meld. Even for just two of us, I make the full batch: so happy for leftovers! This is going to sound crazy but if you're short on salmon or potatoes or just want to feed more mouths with less expense, throw in some small cauliflower florets, they have a similar mouthfeel to both the fish and the spuds so just kinda melt into the overall goodness. More craziness? I adore leftover Finnish Salmon Soup cold!

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
HISTORY OF THIS RECIPE Way back in 2006, I first shared an entirely different recipe for Salmon Chowder on this Kitchen Parade page. It tasted good but frankly, the recipe itself was a travesty. (Chicken stock? Corn? Garlic? Fat-free cream? Too little salmon and too few potatoes?) I did indeed remember loving lohikeitto when I lived in Finland as an exchange student and in subsequent visits. But when I wrote the recipe, I made two giant mistakes: dumbing it down for American cooks and leaning into the chowder I knew best, corn chowder. Since then, I've become a better cook, a better recipe writer and more passionate about honoring Finnish cuisine. So during the pandemic, I began to perfect my own version of Finnish Salmon Soup, gathering practices and techniques from an opinionated group of Finns from across the world who share recipes in a Facebook group where the number one lesson is, if 100 Finnish cooks make lohikeitto, there are at least 99 different recipes. Fast forward to 2024. I have 100% rewritten the recipe, ingredients and technique both. And I love it! Moreover, I'm proud of it. I happily cook it for special meals with friends. I'm willing to often spend more than an hour at the stove to make it. Finally, this is the real deal.

Seasonal Eating: Late Winter in the Midwest

Split-Pea Soup with Sausage & Kale Light 'n' Easy Chocolate Pudding Finnish Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto) Irish Beef Stew Lemon Meringue Pie Irish Soda Bread Muffins Perfect Hard-Cooked Eggs Easy Baked Fish Cornmeal Pancakes with Warm Blueberries Chicken Stew with Chickpeas & Kale Southern Corn Bread Lazy Man's Ciopinno Spiced Chicken Tagine with Roasted Cauliflower My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing

This Week, Elsewhere
(those were the days, posting a new recipe every day)

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If you like Kitchen Parade's recipes, you'll love A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables with more from-scratch recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, home to the famous Alphabet of Vegetables and vegetables in every course, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

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~ carrots ~
~ potatoes ~
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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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2006, 2011, 2015 (repub), 2019 & 2024

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous7/21/2007

    Alanna, I've never heard of salmon chowder but it sounds delicious. I am definitely going to have to try this out. Thanks:)


  2. Anonymous7/21/2007

    Mmmm...I bet this would also work with leftover salmon, just added at the very end?

    You know me, always trying to get my dishes to double-up!



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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna