With all the heavy dishes of fatty meats and sweet, baked goods during the holidays, it’s sometimes nice to ‘ease up’ on the diet with some seafood. My mom usually will always serve halibut on Christmas Day, served with boiled potatoes, pickled cucumbers and a nice, fresh salad – a welcome change from the day before when most of us have indulged way too much. I will cover this dish in a later post, but today I was tempted to re-create the Bergen Fish Soup, a delicacy and classic dish known to most Norwegians. The French have their bouillabaisse, New England has their clam chowder, and San Fransisco proudly serves its cioppino – but the Bergen Fish soup will always be close to my heart. The soup gets its name from the beautiful city of Bergen on the west coast. Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, known for its seafood and maritime industry and gorgeous, multicolored buildings, and is situated among a group of mountains known as the Seven Mountains. Bergen is also one of the more cultural cities of Norway and an absolute must to visit should you be in my lovely country!
It is no secret that Norway has some amazing seafood due to its large coastline, and the Bergen soup celebrates many of the delicacies found in our oceans. While you can find this easily in ‘ready to cook’ packages in the supermarkets across the country, as a cook, I naturally find much more satisfaction in creating this soup from scratch with all the wonderful seafood I can get my hands on. Not unlike a classic seafood chowder, with potatoes, cream, sour cream or creme fraiche , it is perfect as a light dinner, served with a good, crusty loaf of bread and of course… a crisp white wine! Chablis is my favorite…Try Christian Moreau 1er Cru Vaillons 2010, this domaine is always a winner in my book.
Below is one version of a recipe for Bergensk Fiskesuppe – but you can play around with it, and add or substitute your favorite fish or seafood. I typically like to add different colors of fish, for variety in both flavor, look and texture.
Here is a recipe that has made me happy many a times:
2 1/2 tablespoons plain flour
4 -5 cups fish stock or vegetable stock
1 medium carrot, diced small
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-2 inch cubes
12 peeled medium shrimp (raw)
12 mussels or small scallops
6 ounces halibut (or fish of your own choice)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
1/4 cup creme fraiche
Heat up the fish stock in a separate pot and gradually add to the vegetables, stirring all the time, let it simmer gently for 5-10 minutes.
Add the fish first, then after a couple of minutes the shrimp and then lastly the mussels, cook for a couple of minutes, and finish with adding the milk and heavy cream.
Simmer for another minute or so until heated through.
Finish by adding the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve garnished with creme fraiche and chopped dill or chives or more parsley.There is a version that also adds about 1 tbsp of sugar and some vinegar or a squeeze of lemon in to the soup and whisk in 2 egg yolks at the end (take some stock out of the soup and whisk in the egg yolks in a small bowl and add it back to the soup) to make the soup even richer/thicker. You can experiment with that as well should you wish – the options are endless!