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Jul 16, 2022

Finnish Summer Soup (Kesäkeitto)

This Finnish summer soup, called kesäkeitto, is a traditional soup featuring freshly harvested summer vegetables cooked in milk, butter, and a little sugar, and then finished with cream. 

Finnish Summer Soup (Kesäkeitto) with black bowls and garnish.


Kesäkeitto literally means summer soup in Finnish. Ideally, it should be filled with handfuls of young fresh vegetables, the greater the variety, the better. 

To cook the vegetables, you begin with the longer cooking varieties such as root vegetables and those you'd like to melt a little into the broth, and add the more delicate veggies as the soup cooks. Ideally, you want the green veggies to stay green. 

Finnish Summer Soup (Kesäkeitto) Ingredients.

Vegetables in Finnish Summer Soup:

For this soup, I used pearl onions, carrots, baby yellow potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, and peas. I did cheat a little by using frozen peas. 

You can also add spinach (which is pretty common in this soup, broccoli, leeks, and fennel. You can also substitute chopped onions for the pearl onions if you're not up to peeling these little guys. 

While not typical in Finland, you can also add corn kernels and chopped red bell pepper. The more color the better! 

Vegetable base for Finish Summer Soup.

You can garnish this soup with thinly sliced radishes and lots of fresh dill (don't forget the dill). 

While Finnish purists will probably vehemently object, I also added some vegetable bouillon base to the water in the soup to add some tomato and aromatic umami to the mix. It's good stuff. In fact, I have jars of this stuff in pretty much every flavor in my fridge for whenever I need a small amount of broth for a recipe. 

Ingredients for Finnish Summer Soup with dill and radishes.

Kesäkeitto is typically made with milk and butter (and a little bit of flour), and then finished with cream, which you heat through at the end. 

With this soup, I used half and half and water for the liquid base, along with the butter and flour, and ended up with a perfectly thickened soup. 

Finnish Summer Soup with dill and radishes in white bowls.

Another key ingredient for this soup is white pepper. It has a complex flavor and is less pungent than black pepper. It is also great for dishes where you don't want the black flecks of pepper to be visible. 

Rest assured, if you only have black pepper, or a peppercorn mix (which I love), you're fine. Go ahead and use whatever pepper you have. 

How to Peel the Pearl Onions:

To peel the pearl onions, drop them, skin and all, into salted boiling water for about a minute. Next, drain them and flush them with cold water to stop the cooking. Trim off the cut ends and then pull off the skins from the other end. 

It's tedious, but it's worth it.... or you could just add peeled and chopped white onions. 

Finnish Summer Soup in a wide bowl without garnish.

While you expect this soup to be pretty bland, it is anything but. It is very vegetable forward, and the flavors are surprisingly complex. 

Picture yourself in the middle of July in your garden in Finland where the days are very long, enjoying a bowl of this soup and feeling super virtuous with the breeze flowing through your hair. 

How to Make this Finnish Summer Soup:

First, simmer the potatoes in water for five minutes. Add some salt, pepper, butter, the bouillon base, onions, carrots, beans, and cauliflower and simmer for eight minutes. 

Add the peas and cook for one to two minutes. 

Add some flour and half and half and simmer until thickened, about five minutes. Serve with a garnish of radish slices and dill weed. 

Finnish Summer Soup (Kesäkeitto) in a wide bowl.

Like most soups, this can be made in advance and only gets better over time so you can save it and serve it the next day. 

How to Serve this Soup:

It is traditional to serve this soup with a sliced of rye bread butter, and maybe some smoked salmon, but you can serve it any way  you like! It's a delicious meatless meal, and you don't even have to make a salad. 

To serve it, scoop the vegetables with a slotted spoon into bowls and then ladle the creamy broth over the vegetables. Top with the garnishes and serve. 

I usually like to add even more freshly ground white pepper. 

This month's Soup Saturday theme is summer soups! our host is Magical Ingredients

Finnish Summer Soup (Kesäkeitto) in black bowls.

Finnish Summer Soup (Kesäkeitto)

Finnish Summer Soup (Kesäkeitto)
Yield: 8 serving
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 25 MinTotal time: 45 Min
This Finnish summer soup, called kesäkeitto, is a traditional soup featuring freshly harvested summer vegetables cooked in milk, butter, and a little sugar, and then finished with cream.


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable base such as Better than Bouillon (optional). You can also substitute pre-made vegetable broth for the water and vegetable base.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 mini yellow potatoes such as petite gold or baby Dutch, cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or black pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 small carton (about 8 to 10 ounces) pearl onions, boiled for one minute and then peeled
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 12 ounces fresh string beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 heaping cup bite-sized cauliflower pieces
  • 2 cups frozen green peas
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes


  1. In a 4-quart saucepan, bring the water and vegetable base to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the salt and potatoes and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the pepper, butter, sugar, onions, carrots, beans, and cauliflower to the pot, stir, cover, and continue to simmer for an additional 8 minutes. Add the peas, bring back to a simmer, and cook, covered for one minute.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the ingredients and stir. Add the cream and simmer uncovered, stirring regularly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve garnished with the dill and radish slices.

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vegetables, kesakeitto
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Recipe inspired by The Kitchn plus various other sites. 

Would you like to comment?

  1. This is a lovely soup! I love pearl onions and the they are amazing in this soup. I can't wait to try this. Thanks for joining.

  2. This is a very creamy and delicious soup!


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