Ladle It Up!
Most eateries in Helsinki have it on their menu but here are a few places that make hearty soups made with heart.
Qulma is located in the historic, architecturally beautiful district of Kruunuhaka. What most people don’t know is that it’s also the area for music-making with plenty of studios dotted around. Let me introduce you to Marc Aulén, author of a book full of soup which he hopes to publish in English in the near future, and owner and chef of this restaurant serving a soup buffet at lunchtime Mondays to Fridays.
He pops with pride when he talks about his restaurant where he plays his own choice of funky music and serves up three soups that brim with flavour, spunk and innovation. Take for example his pea soup with mint, creamy with a dash of acidity to lift it. His chicken curry creation has a myriad of tastes with just enough spice to tickle your taste buds. Then there’s the homemade bread and lots of other goodies like seeds, sour cream, guacamole and cheese to go with it. Eat your heart out for less than a tenner. Who knows, you might even share a table with Jim Beard from Steely Dan….
Maggie Lindholm will greet you with a huge smile and even a kiss if she’s known you a little while. Of Lebanese descent, she moved to Finland years ago and established her indelible presence in the restaurant world. She and her partner Tony work very hard in their little place called Café Rouge on Urho Kekkosenkatu near Kamppi Shopping Centre to keep their customers fed and happy. She tells me,
“I don’t cook with heart, I cook with hormones! Whatever I feel like and whatever catches my fancy, is what you get.”
Believe me, those hormones of hers know exactly what the punters want and need judging by the shared tables at lunchtime. The soup of the day is always out of this world. Their lamb concoction with an amazing tomato base with an infusion of mint is exactly what your tummy craves on a cold winter’s day. The mixed bean soup is a fusion of Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine, enough to want to slurp it up. The offering comes with a salad buffet that includes their version of crispy bread, feta cheese, and spicy pickle salad amongst others. All this for €8! Of course there are other items on the menu, equally lovingly prepared.
Soppakeittiö meaning ‘soup kitchen’ is a chain, but no ordinary one. They’re located in the three main market halls in Helsinki at Hakaniemi, Hietalahti and at the market square. Three soups are on the lunch menu daily and usually comprise a vegetarian one, a meaty one and bouillabaisse and if you haven’t tasted the latter, you’re in for a massive treat. It’s a Finnish take on this French recipe, full of local fish with that unmistakeable hint of fennel. Their creamy fresh pea and asparagus combo is fresh and has obviously been made with a decent stock. Crunchy bread and a parsley, herby oil to dip it into is part of the package. Prices for a hockey-player sized bowl range between