Monday, July 18, 2011

Finnish Summer Vegetable Soup (Kesäkeitto)

I like to cook and even though I'm nowhere near a chef, it is usually tasty enough.
Every once in a while, I tend to make some more effort and 'really' cook.
One of my favorites is a Finnish vegetable soup called Kesäkeitto.

Traditionally it was made from fresh summer vegetables and enjoyed as a light lunch soup.
I am not sure what the Fins call a light meal, but combined with some home made bread it makes a very tasty and filling dinner as well.

Now, let's get started.
First the ingredients for 3-4 servings.

- 500 gr (18 oz) fresh vegetables to your liking. Can be a mix of carrot, peas, broccoli, grean beans. Whatever.
- Some salt
- 25 g (1 oz) frying butter
- 25 g (1 oz) flour
- Some stock powder
- Peper
- 1 dl (1 3/8 fl oz) whipped cream
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch or something else to bind the soup
- 200 g (7 oz) peeled pink shrimps
- 2 tablespoons of chopped dill.


First boil up 1 liter (1/4 gallon) of water with some salt.
Then boil the vegetables for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the egg yolk, the cream and the cornstarch until smooth.

Drain the cooking fluid (Don't throw away!!!) and separate the vegetables.

Then heat up the frying pan with the butter

 And fry the flour gently until light brown.

Pour in half of the earlier drained cooking fluid, bring to a boil again and stir until smooth.
Then pour in the rest of the fluid.

Add pepper and stock powder to taste.
Gently simmer and whip the cream paste through the soup.

Now it's time to add the vegetables and the shrimps and heat up the soup until just reaching the boiling point.

And it finished! Serve it with the dill and thick slices of freshly baked bread.
Best enjoyed in the company of good friends and family!

Eet smakelijk, Hyvää Ruokahalua!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Midsummer's Dream, Part 2: The Westfjords

With Reyjavik as a basecamp, Sif and I travelled to many beautiful places over the summer.

When I visited two years ago, we made a roundtrip around Iceland on the ringroad #1, taking us to all the major sights along the way.

This time though, we wanted to get of the main road and see the more remote places. So as soon as Sif could get a week off work, we packed our camping gear in my little car and took off to the Westfjords in the North-West Iceland.

The Westfjords are geologically the oldest part of Iceland. They are very mountainous and the coastline is heavily indented by dozens of fjords surrounded by steep hills.
It is a land where fairies and trolls are said to dwell. Driving through this remote peninsula, it is not hard to imagine just that.

The mountains are recipe for changing weather and
beautiful cloud formations.

Gently drifing over smooth gravel roads. Following the coastline.
You can see the Snaefelsjokul glacier in the background.

Sandy beach, blue sea.
But it is definitely not warm enough to take a swim!

Though we were very fortunate with the weather,
it often gets very gloomy here.

Wondering what lies behind the next rise...

Sometimes those gravel roads are a joy to drive over and slide sideways through the corners like a rally driver. Other times, the road is almost non-existing and my old car crawls over rocks and loose gravel.


We are on our way to a remote and now abandoned settlement where many Icelandic artists have lived at the very end of the Arnarfjordur. There was not much left of that settlement, but some ruins torn down by the merciless winds of the North Atlantic Ocean.

We continue, well actually head back on the same road. Around midnight we reach the beautiful waterfall Dynjandi. It falls down about 100 meter (330 feet) in many small stages. It is just magical to sit there and watch the water flow down.

Dynjandi waterfall

The next morning we head out to the most western part of Europe, Látrabjarg. After a long long drive over something resembling a washboard, the road goes no further. I park my car next to two big German 4x4 vehicles. The drivers look very annoyed that such a little old car has made it there over that same road.


This is officially the closest I have ever been to America!

Látrabjarg, the most western part of Europe.

Magnificent camping spot.

After a good night's rest, we continue our way to Isafjordur, the main 'capital' of the Westfjords.
Along the way we stop at a small fishing settlement near Bolungarvik, where time seem to have stood still for many years. It is actually a reconstruction of how the local fisherman lived in the old days.

Isafjordur is the largest town in the Westfjords, it even has an airport. It is a good place to stock up on provisions. We head over the mountain plateu on the way back to Reykjavik and find this old mountain rescue hut. You could definitely sit out a storm in this one. 
A few hundred meters away though, there was a modern bright orange one complete with radio and emergency supplies.

On the other side of the mountains, we find another beautiful camping spot, right next to the water and enjoy the midnight sun.

Midnight sun
And so ends our trip to The Westfjords of Iceland. A magnificent part of Iceland that has left it's mark in my memories.

To be continued....