Nothing is quite as warming as a winter vegetable soup. Hearty, packed with nutrients and piping hot. Norway has a long history with root vegetables.They are grown in many parts of the country and can generally be easily stored.
Norwegians do have their favorites of course – like rutabaga, carrots and potatoes – but more and more, others are being used more frequently in cooking, such as turnips, parsnips and beets. And the wonderful thing about this root vegetable soup is that you can use up what you have laying around and mix and match to your heart’s content.
In this soup, I have used turnips, parsnips, celery root, parley root, carrots and potatoes to create a delicately sweet and balanced soup. Fresh thyme and parsley add a bit of distinction and to top it all off, crispy fenalår provides a well-needed punch of saltiness and texture.
Fenalår is very symbolic of Norway and is eaten predominately throughout the winter. It is the meat from a sheep/mutton thigh, which has been cured. The flavor of fenalår is so distinct and great on its own, yet by frying it, it turns into something similar to bacon – but if you ask me, much better. If you can’t get your hands on fenalår, then try substituting it with another cured meat or crunchy, spiced croutons for a vegetarian option.
Root Vegetable Soup with Crispy Fenalår
Serves 6 to 8
- 1/2 cup (112 g) butter
- 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
- 1 celery root (about 225g with the skin and core removed), cut into pieces
- 1 parsley root, peeled and cut into pieces
- 6 1/4 cups (1.5 litres) vegetable or chicken broth
- 3 small potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Norwegian fenalår or other types of cured meats, such as bacon, cut into thin strips
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
In a large heavy pot, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté until golden and soft, around 12 to 15 minutes. Add the parsnips, carrots, celery root and parsley root, and cook for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables begin to carmelize. Stir in the broth, potatoes, fresh parsley and thyme and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are softened.
While the soup is cooking, heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the fenalår strips and cook for 1 minute or until they are crispy. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth and creamy. Return the soup to the pot if using a food processor. Stir in the heavy cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. You may wish to add additional broth at this time if the soup is too thick, depending on your desired consistency. To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with a handful of the crispy fenalår strips.