Norwegian Cuisine: Spinatsuppe, Spinach Soup

We loved our Gravlaks, but it is really an hors d’oeuvre and not a meal by itself, and is of pan-Scandinavian origin.  We needed something filling and distinctly Norwegian.  We knew we wanted to try something that incorporated vegetables in some way, and when we happened across the recipe for spinatsuppe, Norwegian spinach soup, we gave it a try.

When you think about it, spinach is a perfect vegetable for Norway.  Even the southernmost tip of Norway is at a more northerly latitude than Juneau, Alaska, so they have a very short growing season.  Vegetables that mature quickly, like radishes, leafy greens like spinach or chard, or root vegetables that can withstand frost like rutabagas or parsnips are about all that a Norwegian gardener can grow with any kind of ease.  Nowadays, of course, with modern agricultural and transportation technology, Norwegian cooks have access to about any produce they want year-round, but spinatsuppe remains an important part of the local food culture.

Spinatsuppe

adapted from The Cooking of Scandinavia (Time-Life Foods of the World Series) by Dale Brown

SERVES ABOUT 4

  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 10 oz package frozen, chopped spinach
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced, for garnish

In a saucepan, we melted the butter over medium-low heat and added the flour:

flourinpan

Whisking constantly, the roux was cooked until the mixture had just started to darken, maybe two minutes total:

whiskingroux

Realizing that a two-quart saucepan was not going to be big enough for our soup, we moved the roux to a larger vessel and proceeded:

rouxinnewpot
This is real cooking, folks. Mistakes get made.

Once the new pot was brought back up to medium-low heat, the stock, nutmeg, and some salt and pepper were added and thoroughly incorporated with the roux:

stockadded

Once our soup base was beginning to bubble and simmer, we added the block of frozen spinach.  We feel that you don’t need to thaw it in advance if pressed for time; it will happen soon enough in the hot stock:

spinachadded
The reader is assured that the finished soup looks more appetizing than this image.

After about eight minutes, the spinach was mostly thawed:

spinachthawing

…and after about another eight minutes was fully thawed and blended into the soup:

spinachthawed

The soup was left to simmer for another twenty minutes so the flavors could meld together some.  After that time the broth had taken on quite a bit of the green color of the spinach:

soupdone

At this point the kitchen had been gently blanketed with the pleasant odor of spinach and nutmeg, and we were dying to dig in.  We served the soup garnished with slices of egg:

soupgarnished

Spinatsuppe is very simple in flavor, with the focus set squarely on the spinach.  As the egg slices soak up some of the hot spinach broth the yolks become very creamy and just a bit spinach-ey.  It reminded us a lot of eggs florentine, minus the Hollandaise sauce, of course.

More from our Norwegian meal:

Gravlaks

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