Betasuppe in Two Languages

Posted on 30. Sep, 2014 by in Food, Traditional

Betasuppe looks better on a real table, but this was the only free-to-use photo I was able to find… (Courtesy of knuton at Flickr, licensed under Creative-Commons.)

Betasuppe looks better on a real table, but this was the only free-to-use photo I was able to find… (Courtesy of knuton at Flickr, licensed under Creative-Commons.)

It’s autumn in Norway, and the days are getting cold. Is there a better way to regain inner heat than sharing a steaming pot of betasuppe? The word means ”bit soup”, and it’s an all-time Norwegian classic. Remember the flatbrød! :-)







 Ingredienser til 4 porsjoner

4 ss byggryn (kan utelates)
1 ¼ dl gule erter
1 ½ l kaldt vann
300 g kjøtt av sau/lam

2 stk gulrot
4 stk poteter
2 skiver kålrot
1/4 finhakket purre
eventuelt persille

Slik gjør du:

Legg byggrynene og ertene i bløt hver for seg natten over. Kok vann, erter og gryn i ca. 90 minutter. Tilsett kjøttet, og kok det i ca. en halv time. Ta opp kjøttet og del det i terninger. Legg terningene tilbake i gryta. Skjær grønnsakene i terninger og tilsett. Kok i ca. 15 minutter til alt er mørt. Suppa skal være tykk. Smak til med salt og pepper. Dryss eventuelt med finhakket persille før servering. Server med flatbrød.

Ingredients for four portions

4 tablespoonfuls of barley groats (may be excluded)
1 ¼ decilitres of split peas
1 ½ litre of cold water
300 grams of mutton (sheep or lamb)

2 carrots
4 potatoes
2 slices of rutabaga/swede
1/4 finely chopped leek
if convenient, parsley

This is how you do:

Soak the barley groats and the peas separately during the night. Boil water, peas and groats for about 90 minutes. Add the meat, and cook it for about half an hour. Remove the meat and cut it into cubes. Put the cubes back in the pot. Cut the vegetables into cubes and add them. Boil for about 15 minutes until everything is tender. The soup should be thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. If convenient, sprinkle with nicely clipped parsley before serving. Serve with flatbread.

Disclaimer: In order not to violate anybody’s copyright, the recipe has been rewritten by me from different online sources. If you want to try a more refined recipe, please take a look at the description and images shared by the blogger arcticgrub.

The Scotlands of Norway

Posted on 27. Sep, 2014 by in History, Norway and the world, Politics


The Saami flag. By anjči from London, UK (Saami flag, Tromsø / Norway) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Last week the people in Scotland voted no to becoming a country independent from the United Kingdom. For some people in faraway countries, it was maybe the first time they saw the Scottish flag or even heard about Scotland. I want to make sure that you, i det minste (at least), hear about the parts of Norway that aren’t typically Norwegian (even if they aren’t separate countries like Scotland):

Sápmi (Saami) or Sameland (Norwegian) is the ”Saami Country”. Samene (the Saami people) probably came to Norway long before the Vikings. I gamle dager (in days of old) there were Saami living as far south as Sørnorge (Southern Norway). The Norwegians, however, gradually pushed them north. Today they are living in parts of Nordnorge (Northern Norway, mainly the fylker Finnmark, Troms, Nordland and a bit into Trøndelag). Many Saami have kept their ancient clothing, singing and herding traditions (reinsdyr! reindeer!), and even the language samisk (Saami), which is related to Finnish. They used to be discriminated by Norwegian officials, such as lærere (school teachers) who would brutally punish Saami schoolchildren who were caught speaking their own language. Today they’re of course (!) fully integrated into the Norwegian society and even have the right to wave little Saami flags on 17. mai, den norske grunnlovsdagen (the day of the Norwegian constitution). The Saami have their own parliament – Sametinget – in the Saami-speaking town of Karasjok. For two reasons, though, it’s very unlikely that there’ll ever be a vote on Saami independence: 1. The Saami live in four different states – Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. 2. The Saami live side by side with ”ordinary” Norwegians, and there are very few places where they are in the majority.

Polar bears ahead! Photo by Kitty Terwolbeck. Licensed under Creative-Commons on Flickr.

Polar bears ahead! Photo by Kitty Terwolbeck. Licensed under Creative-Commons on Flickr.

– Have you ever looked at Norway on a map, and then moved your eyes a bit further north? If so, you’ve probably noticed the group of islands called Svalbard. They’re part of Norway, but in a special way. A century ago the world’s powerful countries all wanted to share those cold øyer (islands) with isbjørnene (the polar bears). The international community finally (by the means of Svalbardtraktaten, the Svalbard Treaty of 1925) gave Norway the ”suverenitet” (souvereignty), which basically meant: ”Okay, guys, you can call those islands Norwegian and raise your pretty flags, but don’t get in the way of our businessmen, and don’t send your soldiers up there.” For many years the Soviet Union was mining for coal in Svalbard, where there still is a community of russere og ukrainere (Russians and Ukrainians). Unlike the rest of Norway, Svalbard is not a member of NATO, and it is not allowed to be its own fylke (”region”). Russland (Russia) and Norge occasionally disagree about the islands, but, as far as I know, things have been quiet for a long time. The most powerful person on Svalbard is sysselmannen, who’s a kind of supervisor and police officer who checks that the 2000-something inhabitants behave nicely. I don’t know how to translate sysselmann, but it’s a nice word! :-)

5 most bizarre Norwegian dishes

Posted on 31. Aug, 2014 by in Food, Traditional

An exotic country, Norway has got its share of rare dishes. Native Norwegians may not agree with me, but I think the most bizarre Norwegian dishes are the following:


Lefse. Thanks to kurisorokku on Flickr.

5. Lefser with brunost. A lefse is a Norwegian tortilla, only with hvetemel and potet (potato) instead of maize (corn). Wrap it around some brunost (Norwegian brown cheese), and you have a nice add-on to kaffien (the coffee). Why is this strange? Well, it depends on your smak (taste)! A few times, it tastes just too much of dusty flour and burnt caramel… Jamie Oliver thought brunost was noe søtt kliss (some sweet ”goo”). Many visitors absolutely adore it.


Komle (top right ”corner”). By Jarvin (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

4. Komler. I’ve seen the eyes of Norwegians twinkle as they told me they were about to eat komler or raspeballer, as they’re also known. The English name for such white, spongy, round thingies is ”potato dumplings”. I never understood the charm of chewing hot balls of flour. Somewhere there’s supposed to be a tinge of potatoes.

3. Dravle. As a kid on his first visit to Norway I had a hard time digesting some spoonfuls of this traditional dessert. The Big Norwegian Encyclopedia tells us that dravle is usually made from milk that is being heated till it almost starts boiling, ”under tilsetning av surmelk og evt. halvpisket egg, slik at ostestoffet faller ut i hvite klumper” (during the addition of soured milk and eventually half-whipped eggs, so that the casein/”cheese stuff” emerges as white lumps). – I wasn’t able to find a free photo of dravle, but take a look here.


Lutefisk. By Jonathunder (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Lutefisk. You take a torsk (cod), dry it for some months until it becomes as stiff as parchment skin. Then you put your tørrfisk (dried fish) to soak for some days, steep it in lut (lye – a substance with a pH value similar to soap), before you let it soak in some more water. The result is a very watery delikatesse (delicacy), to say the least…


By PerPlex (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Smalahove. No doubt about this one. As if eating the hove (= hode, head) of a smale (= sau, sheep) wasn’t weird enough, smalahove afficionados in Western Norway even slurp the sheep’s little brain and big, empty eyes.