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swedish fish soup or svenska fisksoppa

May 20, 2010

The Swedish don’t get a whole lot of credit for their cuisine.  You say Swedish and people will likely think of IKEA, ABBA and blonde people.  Probably in that order.  If you make them think of Swedish food and drink, they’ll then stretch their imagination to Swedish meatballs, Absolut vodka and the Swedish chef.  Don’t get me wrong,  I do love a good Swedish meatball and I consider the Swedish chef a culinary idol, but, for let’s give credit where credit is due.  The Swedes know their seafood.

On a recent trip to Stockholm, I ordered a soup that easily climbed its way to the top of my “favorite soups/stews in the world” list.  I’m normally really good about asking the name of things and shamelessly asking for recipes, but somehow this time I forgot.  Through a number of websites (mostly Swedish), I pieced together this recipe and it’s really good and very close to what I enjoyed in Sweden.  How do I know it’s good?  Because after eating two big helpings, Mr. KC put it on the “make again soon, please” list and he even said it in Swedish*.  So, actually, not only is this soup good, it’s magical.  Go figure.

*In the interest of full-disclosure, the speaking Swedish bit is the fiction portion of this post.  The rest is pure fact.

Swedish fish soup/Svenska fisksoppa
inspired by Sweden and is a Frankenstein of various recipes


  • 350 grams/13 ounces baby potatoes, chopped
  • 200 grams/ 7 oz salmon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 200 grams/7 oz  meaty white fish, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 leek, sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 250 ml fish stock (1 cup)
  • 200 ml cream (1/2 plus 1/3 cup)
  • 250 ml white wine (1 cup)
  • 150 ml water (1/2 cup–adding more if necessary)
  • 100 ml creme fraiche or sour cream (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped (original recipe calls for thyme, but I never seem to have any stocked)
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 gram or 2 pinches of saffron
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In salted water, boil cubed potatoes until fork tender.  Drain and set aside.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat butter on medium-high.
  3. Add sliced leeks, and chopped onions and garlic.  Cook until onions are translucent–approximately 5-6 minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste and stir to incorporate evenly.
  5. Add fresh herbs (tarragon or thyme and basil)
  6. Add all your liquids (stock, wine, cream and creme fraiche) and saffron.  Bring to a simmer.
  7. Remove from heat and blend in a mixer until smooth.
  8. Return the mixture to your saucepan and medium-high heat.
  9. At this point, taste your base and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
  10. Add fish pieces  to the soup.
  11. Your fish should only take about 5 minutes to cook throughly.
  12. Add potatoes, mix thoroughly.
  13. Season one last time to taste.
  14. Serve with fresh herbs and a healthy dollop of aioli.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2010 10:57 am

    I’m an expat living in Stockholm and I too, am learning to cook due to the outrageous (in my opinion) cost of eating out here. I tried the same fish soup at a restaurant and loved it! A quick google search led me to your page. I just finished making the soup using your recipe (very easy to follow, btw) and it turned out great!

    Little did I know that saffron is held at the counter at the grocery store here…I visited 3 stores and thought they didn’t carry it. Guess I should have asked in the beginning!

    • August 16, 2010 11:09 am

      I’m so glad the soup turned out. It’s easily on of my favorite recipes these days, I’m so glad I ordered that soup in Stockholm!

      How funny that they carry the saffron behind the counter. Do you think it’s because of theft issues? It is an expensive spice, but keeping it locked up seems a little overkill. Either way, you found it though and that’s what matters. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. emilia permalink
    February 20, 2012 5:13 am

    …and i just came back from Lund, where I ordered this soup in the university mensa. my version was rather pale in colour (no tomato paste added?) and seemed to me a strange distant cousin on all fish soups I tried before. Still, after coming home, I went searching for the receipe, and here I am! Will certainly try it out!
    do you by any chance know how to make Danish fish cakes?
    greetings from berlin, m

    • March 3, 2012 3:33 pm

      Glad I was able to help. This is a personal favorite of mine so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I am afraid I can’t help you with Danish fish cakes although they sound delightful.

  3. Barbie permalink
    January 14, 2013 5:13 pm

    It’s cold and raining and I can only think of fish soup. Yours came up…making it now. All the way in Georgia…..I have a Swedish husband.

    • January 14, 2013 7:21 pm

      Cold and rainy in Georgia and it’s warm and breezy here in Boston–go figure. I hope you (and your husband) enjoy it.


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