Here in lovely Southern Sweden, we’re just coming out of the coolest summer in over some 100+ years. We felt a little guilty when family and friends back in the US were suffering through a really sweltering summer and we were in the high 60’s (16°C), then we got over it. But our late summer days are getting shorter each day and fall is definitely in the air. Fall in Southern Sweden is the best time of the year (in our humble opinion). The grain harvests are now in full swing and the leaves are just beginning to show some color and make that lovely rustling sound as the wind pass through the trees.
But that’s now! In this post we’re going to share with you this fantastic little café we found in the middle of “nowhere” during the summer. Vismarlövs Café & Bagarstuga was just that place and was so good we returned and returned. Not to worry recipe lovers, we’ll be making a great soup patterned after my favorite soup that we had at Vismarlövs Café & Bagarstuga, Rustik Purjolök och Potatissoppa med Bacon (Rustic Leek and Potato Soup with Bacon).
Can’t wait, just click here to Jump to Recipe.
We’ll be getting to the recipe later, but now let’s talk about Vismarlövs Café & Bagarstuga. Loosely translated “Bagarstuga” means bakery cabin, which is what it is. Now, if you’re already tired of my ramblings on you can read about Vismarlövs Café & Bagarstuga on Facebook just click here. But if you want our take on it (and it’s all positive), please read on.
Vismarlövs Café & Bagarstuga is an eclectic, quaint and lovely countryside café and bakery that specializes in serving a very fine “Fika” buffet. But, they also are known for baking some of the finest bread, cakes and cookies around. Let’s not forget the lovely soups as well.
Fika? Fika is a cultural thing here in Sweden that is to be experienced. Like a coffee break, but more. Twice a day work stops and you set and relax and enjoy a cup of coffee (or tea) and something on the sweet side. I’ve been to all kinds of fikas and never met one I didn’t like. Now, I’ve been told the custom goes way back and the name may be “back slang” from the 19-century involving coffee. I’ve also been told and shown that if you’re to have a proper fika, one should have a minimum of three types of cookies, cakes or pies. If interested in more fika info, just Google it or hop on this link to Wikipedia.
I mentioned earlier that this café is in the middle of nowhere, well that might be a bit of a stretch, but close. In these parts, if you can’t get there via public transit (which is fantastic) it’s in the middle of nowhere. Located outside of Klågerup, Sweden, it’s a 30-minute walk to the café. If your curious where it is just hop on the Google Map link.
As you enter your greeted by the intense smell of breads, cookies and pastries of all types. But the smell that grabs my food blogging sense of smell, was their “sourdough honey rye” bread. Oh my, it was so good. I had planned to take some images of the bread we purchased once we got home, but we ate it. On the top shelf in the image of the image above is the sourdough honey rye bread loaves. What’s great, is that they sell it by the kilo (2.2 pounds) and they cut the loaf to suit. And so many sweet buns and cookies to pick from.
As you look around you’ll see all sorts of cool antiques. You’ll love the antique baby stroller which was filled with baked sweet meringues. Swedes love their meringues. Oh, maybe I should do a meringues post. Better yet, maybe I can get my mother-in-law to make her famous meringues and I’ll shot and post it. Sorry, I digress.
Walking around in the original lovely old building is like traveling in a kitchen from a hundred years ago. Above the counters hung on the exposed beams are old copper pots and pans that I suspect were collected from all over Sweden. I look at the pots and pans and find myself wishing they could talk. What a history they could tell. What secrets could your pots and pans reveal if they could talk???
The old food tins are a reminder of what life was like before plastic and refrigeration.
This cool old cash register really dated me, as I’ve used one of these. It was many lifetimes ago as a young boy working in a small neighborhood store. I guess you know you’re an antique when you see one and it doesn’t seem that old.
Back to the fine little café and all the tasty food. After you pay (not with the cash register in the image) in the first building you proceed on into the newer dining room full of old stuff. It’s fantastic. But before we move into that room, I should tell your choices. You can have Fika, the “all you can eat stuff” Fika bar, sandwiches or the soup bar and on the weekend, they have a lovely brunch. But more on the later. Oh, and they take reservations.
The indoor dining room (yep, they have outdoor too) is full of old stuff, but I suppose antiques to others. But, it’s fun and lovely at the same way. The lady that established Vismarlövs Café & Bagarstuga has an eye for the eclectic design, so if you’re OCD be prepared. I doubt there is two of anything in the room, other than dinner ware and place settings. Speak of place settings, I’ve never seen such a collection of different dishware in all my travels. No doubt it represents many, many trips to Swedish loppis (garage/rummage sale) and all of Europe. The image below is just a sampling of the dishware. In snooping around I saw boxes and shelves of dishware yet to be used. What fun it must be to go around and shop for old used plates and glasses, saucer and such to use in your café. Where we used to live in the US, you’d not be able to use these in your café. “Health issue” they say, but we’re all fine over here. What about where you live, can you dine in a restaurant on antique dishware that might have a chip or small crack?
So now it’s time to eat! Grab what you need from the buffet/crockery cabinet, throw it on a tray and off we go.
If it’s the soup buffet, you’ll be treated to a great homemade soup (like our recipe for today) all types of fresh homemade bread, a cake of sorts for dessert and coffee. All of that for around 95sek ($12US, £9.25UK, €10 euro or AUD$15) and that includes tip and tax. The soup changes weekly and is always hot and good. Oh, and the bread is so good. If you’re a real chowhound just tuck in another bowl or slice of bread or two.
Now, if that didn’t fill your tummy or if you just wanted a major fika feast, for a mere 95SEK you can plow into the cookie/cake buffet. Also, there is an assortment of Smörgås (open faced sandwiches) available for purchase.Although we’ve not had a chance to dine at the café for weekend brunch, we’ve been told it’s quite nice. As one can see from the image below, there’s bread of all sorts as well as cheeses, meats, eggs and sweet things. We can’t wait to visit for brunch.
Ok, we’re all plated up and it’s time to find a place to dine. On those cool/cold Swedish days the inside is quite enchanting. You can spend hours just looking at the nick knacks placed here and there. On our last visit, I glanced at the window sill and spied a small glass jar that had “Skrip Permanent Royal Blue” on the label. Who knows what it was? I remember it well.
But, it’s a lovely day, let’s dine outside in the garden. The café has numerous tables and places to set outside.
You can set by the old buggy in the shade.
Perhaps a nice table for four in the sun.
Or my personal favorite table for two, secluded with the shrubs and branches of the tree. Very romantic it is.
We’re sure no matter where you sit you’ll have a lovely experience at Vismarlövs Café & Bagarstuga. Oh, and don’t forget to take in the bakery while you’re there. When they’re baking, the smells coming from the windows are fantastic. Peek inside, the baker is very nice.
Your tummy is full, your heart’s content and it’s time to say farewell to Vismarlövs Café & Bagarstuga for today. But before you leave don’t forget to pick up some fresh bread and sweets. They’ll taste mighty good for that afternoon fika.
And as you leave the café and pass the antique milk cans and scale, don’t forget to pick up some fresh homegrown produce (when in season). The tomatoes we purchased were fantastic.
Let’s Cook Some Soup!
The leeks are at peak season and the potatoes are in, so let’s make a big batch of Rustik Purjolök och Potatissoppa med Bacon. In English we’d call it Rustic Leek and Potato Soup with bacon. This was the weekly soup at the café when we first visited and remains my personal favorite thus far, but to be fair, Rustic Leek and Potato Soup is one of my all-time favorites.
This is an easy and quick soup to prepare and requires just a few basic ingredients. You’ll need bacon and butter, leeks, potatoes a small onion, garlic and a superior quality stock. For this I used my Rich Chicken Stock that was posted back in April. This stock is soooo good in this soup. It adds so much more depth than canned stock. With that said, canned can work, just get the top shelf stuff. The Knorr Chicken Homestyle Stock would be a solid choice if available in your area. Here in Sweden we have the Knorr, but we also have Bong Touch of Taste Kycklingfond, which works as well. If vegetarian is your thing, just omit bacon and substitute veggie broth.
Now you’re saying, “butter and bacon?”, yep that’s right. Everything’s better with butter and bacon. The combination gives the soup a nice rich depth and very nice flavor. So be brave, take your Lipitor and try it. When buying your leeks, go for the ones with the most white showing. Leeks are dirty by nature, so don’t forget to wash them.
Tip: After slicing your leeks, place them in your salad spinner and rinse two or three time in cold water. Then spin them as dry as possible.
About the potatoes, use an all-purpose or waxy yellow (Yukon Gold) or red potato. My preference is yellow. New potatoes will work as well. In the end, it’s more about your preference or what’s in your pantry. In Sweden, I’d recommend Mandelpotatis or rödskalig potatis, but again any will work. To peel or not to peel? That isn’t a question it’s a choice (most of the time). Those lovely peels are rich with good vitamins and minerals, so why waste time and energy peeling? Besides, that’s part of what makes this a “Rustic” soup. In the end, it’s your choice. Sweet potatoes work in this recipe as well, but I’d peel those prior to using.
As for the garnish, you should have a nice bowl of crisp fried (or baked) bacon to serve with the soup as well as snipped chives and a bowl of Crème Fraiche (or sour cream). My fav is to spoon a dollop of Crème Fraiche on top and then load a pile of bacon and toss on lots of fresh snipped chives (gräslök) and “Soup’s On”. Can’t find chives, then substitute scallions (salladslök), or try it with the allium of your choice.
You may of noticed that there’s no cream or milk mentioned in the ingredients. That’s because we make our Rustic Leek and Potato Soup without it. At least in the beginning. We do this for two reasons, first it freezes better without milk or cream and second, when you reheat you can add the dairy or use like Crème Fraiche when served or both.
FYI: Ever wonder what the difference is between Crème Fraiche and sour cream? Simple, Crème Fraiche has a fresher cleaner taste and it’s made naturally. Want to know more? Mike over at www.makeitlikeaman.com has a great post on Crème Fraiche and how to make it.
As I’ll mention in the recipe, you can add milk (mjölk), half and half (matlagningsgrädde) or cream (vispgrädde). Leave the dairy out altogether if you prefer. If you go without, you’ll need to add additional stock (or water) to thin the soup to your liking.
Lastly, a word on cooking methods. You can cook this stovetop, in a microwave or even a pressure cooker. My method of choice is stovetop as it has a great flavor and the soup doesn’t take so long to cook.
Doesn’t this bowl of Rustik Purjolök och Potatissoppa med Bacon look inviting. It’s piping hot, with a dollop of Crème Fraiche, topped with crisp bacon and lots of snipped fresh chives. “My oh my”, it’s rustic, romantic and easy to make.
Chloe says, “Pass the bacon please, leeks give me gas”.
This recipe has been tasted by Chloe and approved for human consumption.
I leave you with a question, would you be afraid to hear what your pots would say if they could talk??
We hope you enjoyed your visit to the café and Happy Cooking!
Rustik Purjolök och Potatissoppa med Bacon
Rustik Purjolök och Potatissoppa med Bacon or Rustic Leek and Potato Soup is a classic throughout the world. But in this recipe, this lovely soup takes on a Swedish twist.
- 1.5 lbs (700 g) Bacon of choice (note 1). fried crisp and chopped in bite sized pieces. Reserve the grease (fat).
- 2 tbsp (54 g) Rendered bacon grease (fat) from above. Olive oil or fat of choice may be substituted.
- 3 tbsp (60 g) Butter, cut to small pieces.
- 2.2 lbs (1 kg) All purpose potatoes, such as Yukon Gold (note 2), washed, unpeeled and cubed in 1" (25 mm) pieces.
- 2.2 lbs (1 kg) Fresh large leeks, white and light green only (note 3). thinly sliced, washed and dried.
- 1 Large brown (yellow) onion, chopped.
- 2 Large clove of garlic (optional), pressed or finely minced.
- 7 cups (17 dl) Rich Chicken Stock (note 4) or stock of choice, warmed.
- 2 Large bay leaves (optional),
- 6 Fresh Thyme sprigs (note 5), tied with kitchen twine.
- 2 cups (4.75 dl) Half & Half (optional, see note 6)
- Salt & Pepper to taste.
Garnish and to serve along with.
- 2 bunch fresh chives (note 7), snipped.
- 2 cup (4.75 dl) Crème Fraiche or sour cream.
- 6 cups (14 dl) Homemade sourdough croutons (optional) see note 8.
First, you'll need to prepare all the ingredients and have them ready to go or do your "Mise en Place". This just means you need to wash and cube the potatoes, slice and wash the leeks and so on. It should take around 20-30 minutes.
To a large (6 qt or 5.75 l) stock/soup pot add the butter and bacon grease (or oil) and bring to saute temp. Mind you don't burn the butter.
When the fat is ready, add the leeks, onion and half of the cooked bacon. Cook for 5 minutes stirring often. When the leeks and onion begin to soften add the garlic and cook about a minute more.
Add the cubed potatoes and cook for a minute or so, mixing all thoroughly.
Next add the thyme, optional bay leaves and give it toss. Now add 6 of the 7 cups of stock, reserving 1 cup to thin if needed. Stir gently to bring the soup together.
Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce heat to medium or until you have fisheye sized bubbles. Cook for 15 minutes and then check the potatoes for doneness. Stir please.
Once the potatoes are tender, remove the soup from the heat to cool for about 5 minutes or so. Remove the bundle of thyme if you used fresh as well as the bay leaves. Please remember to remove the bay leaves.
Once cooled down a bit, using a potato masher, breakdown the potatoes and leeks. This is where the rest of the rustic comes in. You want the soup to be a bit chunky. If using an immersion blender, be sure not to over puree. The soup should thicken nicely.
Now that the soup is to the consistency of your liking, it's time to set aside to cool any that you might wish to freeze.
Rewarm the amount of soup you intend to serve. This is also the time you would add the half and half if using. If serving without the dairy in the soup, you may need to add the remaining cup of stock to thin. Check your seasoning and if needed add salt and pepper to your taste.
To serve, place in a warm tureen with the garnish along side. If using warm bowls, place hot soup in bowl pile on the bacon, toss on a handful of croutons and place/drizzle about a tablespoon of Crème Fraiche (or sour cream) on the top of the soup and sprinkle on the chives.
Serve alongside copious amounts of crisp bacon and extra chives.
Don't forget to take your Lipitor!
Please Note: To change the amount of servings, simply change the number of servings/people to what you wish. For a half batch. simple change the 12 cups to 6. Also Note, the metric conversion in parentheses will not convert.
- We prefer a cured and unsmoked variety.
- In Sweden I'd recommend Mandelpotatis or rödskalig potatis.
- This should be about 4 large leeks.
- Reserve a cup of broth to thin the soup if needed. Should Veggy be your thing, just omit bacon and use vegetable stock here.
- If fresh is not available, use 1 tbsp (msk) of dried thyme.
- You can leave out the Half & Half (milk/cream) and add just prior to final heating for service. We recommend omitting any dairy here if you plan to freeze the soup. After thawing and at time of reheating you can add desired dairy. Our preference is to omit dairy here and serve a dollop of Crème Fraiche (or sour cream) at time of serving.
- In Sweden snipped fresh chives are almost always served with this dish. If fresh chives are not available, scallions (green onions) tops can be substituted.
- Although the croutons are optional, the crunch adds nicely to the dish. Store bought croutons work fine as well.
This is a simple rustic soup and pairs well with a cold Scandinavian Larger Beer or a nicely oaked chilled glass of Chardonnay.
Don't forget the bread and butter....