Just over two years ago I was in Tbilisi, visiting my sister and her family for my niece’s first birthday. Since we both moved away a good few years back, seeing each other has, sadly, become a once or twice a year event. One day, my sister told me “Let’s say we live until 90 and we meet about once a year. That means we’re only going to be seeing each other another 60 times. That’s not enough! Let’s go on holiday together.” That’s how, last July, I ended up at Helsinki Airport, waiting for her connecting flight from Istanbul to land, a couple of hours after mine had arrived from Manchester. We spent a week roaming South-West Finland, from Helsinki to Hanko to Turku to Tampere and back to Helsinki.

FCG_Finland_road_trip_first_stop FCG_Finland_Hannelbacka_Karis_surroundings_1 FCG_Finland_Hannelbacka_Karis_flowers FCG_Finland_Hannelbacka_Karis_surroundings_2 FCG_Finland_Hannelbacka_Karis_surroundings_3 FCG_Finland_Snappertuna_church FCG_Finland_Snappertuna_sign FCG_Finland_Raasepori_castle FCG_Finland_Raasepori_maypole FCG_Finland_helk_crossing_road_sign FCG_Finland_Ekenas_town_building FCG_Finland_Ekenas_church_montage FCG_Finland_island_sunset FCG_Finland_Hannele_Fiskars_montage FCG_Finland_Parainen_Alandsbanken FCG_Finland_Axo_Ekenas_montage FCG_Finland_Parainen_Cafe_Axo FCG_Finland_Hanko_montage FCG_Finland_Parainen_church_sail FCG_Finland_Turku_Abo_cathedral_montage FCG_Finland_Nuutajarvi_glass_factories FCG_Finland_Nuutajarvi_glass_museum FCG_Finland_Nuutajarvi_glass_factories_montage

In a similar fashion to what I did for my road trip of Morocco (refresh your memory here! One, two and three), I’ve divided all my photos from the holiday into three chunks. This is the first batch, along with a Finnish, or Finnish-inspired, recipe. I met my sister at Vantaa airport, we collected our hire car and drove straight into the sunny countryside-meets-seaside area southwest of Helsinki. Over the next few days, we slept on an alpaca farm (where we narrowly missed out on the birth of a baby alpaca, which happened only two days after we left), chatted about life sat on the jetty of a pond just like they used to do in Dawson’s Creek and, obviously, took the obligatory photo of one of the nearly ubiquitous reindeer danger signs that dot every Finnish country road. The photos in this post cover those first few days, before we drove into Tampere and finished the week off discovering Helsinki.

FCG_Finnish_salmon_soup_mosaic FCG_Finnish_salmon_soup_2

Finnish salmon soup

The first time I made this, I started with a sensible mash-up of three reputable-looking recipes I found online, two from Scandifoodie, the other from a website about Finnish food (term, no surprise there). The soup was very quick to prepare – when you consider it’s a main dish, really. the second time I made this (for my family’s Christmas Eve dinner) I prepared the spiced liquid base a couple of hours in advance to let it infuse. I also added the cream then, rather than at the end, like all the recipes I saw suggested. Call me heretical, but I preferred it done this way. If you’d rather follow the original method, add the cream with the salmon. Serves 8, and then some.

2 lt water
400 ml single cream
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 parsnip, cubed
1 chunk of celeriac, finely chopped
1 carrot, sliced into 1cm thick rounds
10 small (or 5 medium) potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 kg fresh salmon, skinned, boned and cut into chunks
sea salt, to taste
whole bunch fresh dill, finely chopped

Start by infusing the liquid base. In a stockpot, add water, cream, allspice, and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat off and let it infuse for a couple of hours. Bring back to the boil, add onions, parsnip, celeriac, carrot and potatoes and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the biggest chunks in the soup can almost be pierced through with a knife. Keep an eye on them as you don’t want them fully cooked at this point. Add the pieces of salmon and simmer on a low heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked. You can check this by gently pulling apart a piece of salmon: if it flakes easily, it’s cooked. Add salt, to taste. Turn the heat off, add the chopped dill and serve (along with some rye bread or crispbread, if you wish).