How to make Sweden’s luxurious lobster soup

Described as the "king of soups" by Swedish food writer John Duxbury, traditional lobster soup is not only a handy way of using up left over lobster shells, it also tastes incredible. Here's chef Johan Sköld’s own recipe for the indulgent favourite.

How to make Sweden's luxurious lobster soup
Lobster soup with dill toast. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food


Serves: 4

Level: Easy

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 90 minutes (plus 60 minutes for flavours to infuse)

Total: 110 minutes


– This makes a wonderfully rich soup, but if you are concerned about the amount of cream you can either serve very small portions or replace all the cream with a good quality fish stock and then add four tablespoons of cream in step 10. (For health reasons this is how I normally make it.)

– Serve the soup with dill toast as shown above or cut into heart shapes as shown below.

– You can freeze lobster shells until you want to make this soup, but do this as soon as possible after cooking the lobsters and use them within two weeks. To use them, defrost them for 30 minutes and then, whilst they are still in the freezer bag, break them up into really small pieces using a mallet.

– Try cooking lobster yourself. It really is quite easy! For our recipe click here.


Shells from two medium sized lobsters

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp brandy or cognac

½ small fennel, finely chopped

250g (8 oz) mixed root vegetables such as carrots, celeriac and parsnip, finely chopped

½ small onion, peeled and finely chopped 2 cm (1″) white end of a leek, finely chopped

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 tsp mixed seeds such as dill, aniseed, fennel or cumin

2-3 dill flowers, if in season

180 ml (¾ cup) white wine

900 ml (3½ cups) double (heavy) or whipping cream

1 tbsp dry sherry

Salt and white pepper to taste

Lemon juice to taste

4 small dill sprigs


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas 6, fan 180°C).

2. Bake the lobster shells for 5 minutes to dry them thoroughly.

3. When the shells are cold enough to handle, break them up as much as possible with a mallet. The smaller the pieces the better the flavour.

4. Heat a tablespoon of butter in a large pan. When melted, add the crushed lobster shells. Sauté for a few minutes until it begins to smell quite lobsterish, then remove from the heat, add 2 tablespoons of brandy and flambé the shells.

5. When the flames subside, add the chopped fennel, roots vegetables, onion, leek, seeds, tomato purée and dill heads (if available). Sauté the mixture for 5 minutes or so until the vegetables have softened a bit.

6. Add the wine and boil for 5 minutes.

7. Add the cream and bring to a gentle simmer. Put a lid on the mixture and leave it to simmer gently for an hour, stirring occasionally and turning down the heat if it looks as if it might burn.

8. After an hour turn off the heat and leave the flavours to infuse for an hour in the pan with the lid on.

9. Sieve the mixture.

10. Return the mixture to a cleaned-out saucepan and bring back to a gentle simmer. Add a tablespoon of sherry plus salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

11. Just before serving, whisk the soup with an electric hand blender and then carefully pour into warm soup bowls.

Luxury version

Roughly chop the tail meat from two lobsters and add four claws to an oven proof dish. Cover with foil and place in a warm oven for a few minutes to warm through. The meat only needs to be gently warmed through and not cooked because otherwise it will become rubbery. Divide the meat between four dishes and carefully pour the soup around the meat. Garnish with dill if desired. 

Dill toast (optional)

Dill toast makes an attractive garnish and for a special occasion it looks really nice when cut into heart-shapes. It is also easy to make!

8 slices of white sourdough bread

2 garlic cloves, peeled

40g (⅓ stick) butter, softened

4 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill


1. Preheat the over to 220°C (425°F, gas 7, fan 190°C).

2. Cut the bread into heart shapes.

3. Halve the garlic cloves and then use the cut faces to wipe one side of each slice of bread.

4. Mix the butter and chopped dill together. Spread the mixture over each piece of bread.

5. Bake for 3-5 minutes until golden brown at the edges.

Recipe by Johan Sköld and published courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.

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The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.