Fersk kjøtt og suppe “fresh meat and soup” is a traditional dinner found in various regions in Norway, which also goes by other names such as sø in Gudbrandsdalen. It consists of fresh meat that has simmered for a few hours in water to tenderize it. The broth from cooking the meat becomes the base for the soup, which is filled with seasonal vegetables and, most often, flour dumplings. The soup is served first and then the meat follows with a sweet and sour onion sauce on top and a side of boiled potatoes. Though, it can also be served with the meat in the soup.
In earlier times, when fresh meat was available after the slaughtering season (end of autumn/beginning of winter), this meal would be served as a type of festmat or celebratory dish. It would be served just once during the year since the remaining meat would need to be preserved, typically with salt, to last the rest of the year. Once access to fresh meat was more readily available well into the 1900s, then this dish became more of a Sunday dinner.
The meat is typically beef or lamb, though some might use pork. The vegetables used in the soup are also telling of the season – any combination of carrots, onions, cabbage, leeks, celeriac, rutabaga, or parsnips. In addition to the vegetables, flour dumplings also known as melboller, krummer, klotboller, are added in. These buttery dumplings have a hint of cardamom that really add to lusciousness of this simple yet flavorful soup.
When serving, a very traditional onion sauce that is both sweet and sour is paired with the meat along with boiled potatoes. This truly is a wonderful meal to serve at this time of year when it’s getting colder and the harvest produce is plentiful.
Feel free to add the meat in the soup rather than on the side with the onion sauce. Just pull apart the meat, discard any bones, and add back into the soup before cooking the dumplings. Also, use whichever harvest vegetables you have on hand.
Fersk Kjøtt og Suppe
Serves 4 to 6
For the meat and stock:
- 2.2 pounds (1 kg) fresh lamb or beef meat on the bone (such as the neck, shoulder, shank)
- 10 ½ cups (2 ½ liters) cold water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
For the soup:
- Stock from the meat
- 6 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 2 small parsnips, peeled and finely diced
- ¼ rutabaga, finely diced
- 1 small leek, cleaned and finely chopped
- ¼ small cabbage, finely chopped
For the flour dumplings:
- 1 ¼ cups (150 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup (120 ml) milk
- 4 tablespoons (56 g) butter, melted
For the onion sauce:
- 2 cups (480 ml) reserved stock
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
In a large, heavy pot, bring the meat, water, salt, and bay leaf to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 2 ½ hours or until the meat is falling from the bones. While the meat is cooking, skim any fat off the soup. Transfer the meat to a serving platter, cover to keep warm, and set aside.
Filter the stock with a mesh strainer and discard the bay leaf. Bring to a boil then add the carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, leek, and cabbage and cook for about 15 minutes or until tender. Measure about 2 cups (480 ml) stock and set aside for the onion sauce.
For the dumplings, in a large bowl, combine the flour, cardamom, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Add to the flour mixture, followed by the melted butter, and whisk until blended. Dip a small spoon in warm water then use it to scoop out some of the dough and drop each spoonful into the simmering soup. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Once all the dumplings are in the soup, cook for 5 minutes.
For the onion sauce, in a small saucepan, bring the reserved 2 cups stock and onion to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 5 minutes. Create a slurry by combining the cornstarch with a little cold water until smooth. Add the slurry to the sauce and whisk to blend. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve the soup first followed by the meat (if whole, slice into pieces) and onion sauce with boiled potatoes. Alternatively, serve everything on the table together. If adding the meat into the soup, then omit the onion sauce and boiled potatoes.
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