Recipe: How to make Swedish wild garlic soup

This recipe for wild garlic soup from food writer John Duxbury is the perfect way to make use of an underrated Swedish spring crop.

Recipe: How to make Swedish wild garlic soup
Swedish wild garlic soup. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

In the spring ramslök (wild garlic) can be found growing in forests in southern Sweden. Wild garlic soup has become rather fashionable lately, although it has never been quite as popular as nässelsoppa (nettle soup) in Sweden, probably because it is much easier to find nettles. However, wild garlic is much nicer to pick so if you have any wild garlic growing near you it is worth picking some to make this delicious soup.

Wild garlic normally only grows in woodland and looks rather like Lily of the Valley. Take care to ensue that when you rub the leaves they smell of garlic because Lily of the Valley is poisonous.

The leaves are at their best between late April and May, preferably before it comes into flower. The flowers are very attractive, but by the time wild garlic comes into flower the leaves are getting too big and they can be a little bitter.

Unlike with cultivated garlic, only the leaves are picked, as the bulbs are far too small to be of any use in cooking. The leaves can be picked by hand or you can cut them with a pair of scissors. Obviously, don’t pick too many in one area so the plants will come again next year.

Wild garlic pesto is probably more popular than soup, but I make both and use the pesto to make a cream and for a garnish.


Serves: 4-6
Level: Easy
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes
TOTAL: 30 minutes


• Wild garlic is quite bulky so you will need about a third of a carried bag of wild garlic. Around 50 grams of wild garlic is sufficient for the pesto recipe below.

• There is normally no need to wash wild garlic, simply pick over the leaves to remove any moss, grass or other leaves, although you may want to give it a quick rinse if you picked it near a popular dog walking spot!

• The potato is added as a thickener. If the soup is still too thin, mix a tablespoon of flour with some water and then add it to the soup and bring to the boil before adding the soured cream.

• Serve the soup with a good rye bread or some nice crusty white bread.


15 g (1 tbsp) butter

1 medium onion, about 120 g

2 medium potatoes, about 200 g

2 celery sticks

1 litre (4 cups) good quality vegetable stock

200 g (8 cups) wild garlic leaves

170 ml (¾ cup) gräddfil or soured cream

   salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

   grated nutmeg to taste

   lemon juice to taste, optional

Garnish for 4 bowls

6-8 tbsp wild garlic cream, see below

2-3 tsp wild garlic pesto, see below

   finely chopped wild garlic leaves

   grated nutmeg, optional


1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Fry gently until softened, without colouring.

2. Add the potatoes, celery and stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.

3. Add the wild garlic and continue to cook for a minute of two until it has all wilted.

4. Pour into a blender and blitz for about 5 minutes until fairly smooth.

5. Return to the saucepan and add the soured cream, salt and pepper, grated nutmeg (I used about a quarter of a nutmeg) and, if desired, lemon juice.

6. Heat without boiling, taste and adjust the seasoning again.

7. Pour into warmed soup bowls and garnish with a little wild garlic pesto, wild garlic cream, chopped wild garlic leaves and, if desired, some grated nutmeg.

You can either start by making the wild garlic pesto or you can make this whilst the potatoes are cooking, as in step 2 above. (You could substitute shallots or onion for the leek, pine nuts or almonds instead of walnuts, olive oil instead of rapeseed oil and any similar hard cheese to Parmesan. I simply fancied a change from ordinary pesto!)

50 g (2 cups) wild garlic leaves
25 g (2 tbsp) leek, roughly sliced
25 g (3 tbsp) walnuts
75 g (5 tbsp) rapeseed oil
25 g (4 tbsp) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp caster (superfine) sugar
1 tbsp extra rapeseed oil

Pick over the leaves and then place them in a food processor with the leek or shallot, walnuts or pine nuts and the rapeseed or olive oil. Blitz for a minute until finely mixed and then fold in the grated cheese, salt and sugar. Pour into a sterilised jar, pressing down well to remove any air bubbles. Pour over another tablespoon of oil to ensure the surface is covered with oil. Keep in the fridge until required.

When required, stir in the oil and use as necessary. Before returning the jar to a fridge, add some more oil to ensure that the surface is covered. The pesto is superb on bread, stirred into pasta or even added to a bread dough.

Wild garlic cream

For 4 people: mix 6 tablespoons of crème fraîche with 2 tablespoons of wild garlic pesto.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, editor and founder of Swedish Food.

For members


Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden


The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/


A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/


The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.


Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/


Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.