Mary and I salute a friend of more than 20 years who is returning home on May 6th. to Vouni, the Cyprus hill village where we also had our home for many years. Kari Seilo has come through many weeks of surgery and post-operative therapy and has been judged well enough to go home for three weeks before returning to Finland for further treatment. To mark the importance of this day to Kari and his partner Per, I offer a little story and one of Kari’s favourite recipes.

To do this I must roll back our personal clock to around 1974 when Mary and I were in the midst of our careers running our London public relations company, with, among its clients, several hotels/restaurants, wine producers and food manufacturers. This required entertaining of clients, media people, business contacts and others. Despite the wealth of good eating places around us, we felt it more homely and slightly different to offer such guests lunch at our offices from time to time. We created and equipped a small kitchen, part-prepared the lunch at home, took it by car to our office and added the finishing touches there.

Because soup was always popular – a good hot fish or vegetable soup in winter or a chilled Gazpacho or Vichysoisse in summer – a suitable serving vessel was necessary. So, one lunch time Mary walked down to the kitchen department in the old Bourne & Hollingsworth department store, now the Plaza shopping centre, on Oxford Street and staggered back with a large Portuguese soup tureen with lid and ladle. A handsome white china set of a pretty and slightly artisanal design, for several years it graced the table at lunch.

Times change, and so did our business. Even during non-recession times, the going was tough and social lunches much less frequent. The big tureen left office work and went home. And when we moved to Cyprus in 1991 it want along too. It was in its element there and many friends and visitors, Kari and Per among them, enjoyed the concoctions we prepared and served in it.

In 2011, when down-sizing seemed sensible and we moved back to England to our little Mill in Suffolk, there would not be room for the tureen. Our offer of it to Kari was readily accepted and as we saw from the photographs taken last year, it is in good hands and on a good table. On one such occasion, Kari made his favourite “Lohikeitto”, the traditional salmon soup made in Finland. We hope Kari will soon be able to make it and serve it forth once more.

Soup Tureen  4 - on Per & Kari's table     Soup Tureen - with Kari Seilo


“Lohikeitto” – Finnish Salmon Soup

This is a lovely creamy soup which looks marvellous with its pink chunks of salmon, topped with the delicate tracery of fresh dill.

Ingredients for six portions

750 – 800 g of salmon fillet
2 litres of fish stock or water
1.3 kg potatoes
3 medium onions
30 cl cream
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp dill, shredded10 white / black peppers
3 tbs shredded dill + a little more for decoration
70 g butter


1. Peel and cube the potatoes.

2. Peel and cut each onion into 4 pieces.

3. Put the water into a large saucepan and add the salt, peppers, onions and the potatoes.

4. Bring to the boil and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes.

5. Slice the salmon fillets into about 8 pieces.

6. Add the cream and shredded dill to the saucepan.

7. Put the salmon fillet slices in the soup and simmer for five minutes.

8. Add the butter and decorate the soup with some shredded dill.

9. Serve with Rye Bread and butter and a green salad

Cream of Carrot and Leek Soup


“Soup Glorious Soup”

Moulinx Hand-held blender 4  Soup to be blended

As the cooler evenings arrive, so hot starters can be considered. And in my view, a good home-made soup takes a lot of beating.   Read the new cook books, or the menus of trendy restaurants and you’ll come across some weird ingredients used these days in a soup. For my wife and me, though, you can’t do better than using a classic recipe. This one dates from the 1970s and it is adapted from a book by a wonderful cook who ran the kitchen of Britain’s largest magazine group, producing dozens of terrific recipes, before going on to become THE TIMES cook, during which period she published some evergreen recipes books. Around our table it has been very well received.

Essential Equipment which saves energy and effort

Moulinex blender, le Creuset pan, leeks and carrots

To make good soup and to save effort there are two items I think you must have. First of all a good heavy pot with lid, which doesn’t burn – mine have always been Le Creuset, which I have had for many years and which will be in use long, long after I have departed for the great kitchen in the sky. Secondly, if your want a proper cream soup, a good food processor. The best results by far come from a hand-held electric blender, of which I strongly recommend getting a good powerful one, like the Moulinex “Optipro” 600w.   The advantage of a hand-held processor is you don’t have to take the soup out of the pan, saving yourself quite a bit of moving it about and washing up a food processor bowl, blade and lid.   The Optipro blade is simplicity itself to wash.

Cream of Carrot and Leek Soup

Ingredients for 4 – 6 Servings

450 g / 1 Ib carrots
3 large leeks
50 g / 2 oz butter
1.1 litre / 2 pints chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 dessert spoonful of cream per serving
Chopped parsley


  1. Scrape and slice the carrots.
  2. Trim the tops of the leeks to within i inch of the white stem, and slice away the roots. Moulinx Hand-held blender 5  Soup blending
  3. Slice lengthwise through to the centre, and then wash thoroughly in cold water.
  4. Shred the leeks finely.
  5. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the prepared vegetables.
  6. Sauté gently for 2-3 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened slightly, but do not allow them to brown.
  7. Add the stock, stir well and bring up to the boil.
  8. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for about 1½ hours, or until the vegetables are quite tender.
  9. Draw the pan off the heat.
  10. Use a hand-held blender to whizz the soup to a beautiful creamy consistency in the pan – or put into a food processor in two lots and blend.
  11. Check seasoning and heat to serving temperature.
  12. Ladle into warmed bowls. Dribble over a dessert spoonful of cream and swirl and finally sprinkle with parsley.