Christmas Eve Recipes: Another Dish to Serve with Lefse

As I stated earlier, lefse is pretty good all on its own … but here is another Scandinavian dish that goes great with lefse for Christmas Eve dinner. As always, stories are included 🙂 My lefse recipe and tips can be found in earlier posts (see lefse category at the right).

I like to serve fruita soupa with my lefse. Yes, I’m sure you can translate the Swedish: “fruit soup” — no mystery there! Our friends, Krista and Nils, who came to our Christmas Eve dinner that night that I wrote about in my post of Dec. 18, 2007, introduced us to fruita soupa, and I went nuts for this intensely flavored dish. I’ve served it every year since then.

Here’s how to make it:

First thing to do is to follow package directions to pre-soak LARGE tapioca pearls (need the large kind — small just don’t work that well, though they are better than nothing). Basically, the directions say to soak a half cup of tapioca in 2 cups of water overnight in a bowl in the refrigerator. You really need to soak this as directed or the tapioca will be too hard to cook thoroughly the next day! (I know from experience that it’s nearly impossible to cut corners on this step. But if anyone has a suggestion for how to speed up the process, please comment and let us know!)

Put soaked (and drained) tapioca pearls and dried fruit (apples, apricots, pears, prunes, raisins — a mixture of whatever you like) in a heavy pot (or, ideally, a crockpot if you’ve got one) and add in enough water to cover fruit, plus an inch or so. Very thinly slice a whole lemon, rind and all (though you’ll want to remove the seeds). Add to pot. Toss in two whole cinnamon sticks. Heat this up on medium or so until it gets a tiny bit bubbly and then reduce heat to low and simmer for hours. Exact timing will depend on the tenderness of the fruit and other such variables, but the idea is to really meld the flavors, so I usually put it in a crock pot and let it cook all day. If you are cooking it on the stove, be sure to stir every once in a while to avoid burning the bottom — remember, there’s a high sugar content in the mixture due to the fruit.

Periodically check mixture (regardless of the cooking method you are using) and add more water when the mixture gets too thick. The final consistency that you are looking for is like beef stew, chunky but you still need a spoon to eat it. So for most of the cooking time, you’ll want it thinner than this to cook down to that final consistency. This dish improves with a little “aging,” so feel free to make it a day or two ahead and refrigerate. It can be microwaved to reheat for serving.

I serve fruita soupa warm with a little half and half or cream (at room temperature or cool — doesn’t matter) drizzled over the top of each individual serving (or put cream in container and let folks drizzle however much they want). The cream does wonders for this tangy dish and rounds out the flavors beautifully. (Those watching their calories can substitute fat-free half and half.) I do NOT add sugar or other sweeteners. The fruit is pretty sweet as it is. And though dried fruit is higher in calories than fresh fruit (and thus has more weight watchers points — 2 pts. per 1/4 cup), it is still a healthy choice because of all of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Very filling and satisfying, too! Eaten with some lefse and rommegröt and you’ve almost got a meal!

I have been told that in the old days folks offered fruita soupa to pregnant women and new moms. Fiber for the expecting and iron for the newly delivered. So when I was in my third trimester, I asked my friends to bring me fruita soup every week or so. Luckily that was in the fall, so it didn’t seem too out of season. But I’m sure they must have thought I was a bit wacko to keep asking for this. Oh, and why didn’t I cook it myself? I went into pre-term labor (which was stopped after a few days hospital stay), but I was on bedrest at home for nine weeks. I guess that was a scary time for me in some ways, but honestly, what I remember most is the kindness of our friends and strangers who pitched in and gave us all manner of help. Fruita soupa was just one of many delicious dishes folks shared with us; there were brownies (I craved these in a purely carnal way — I simply HAD to have brownies), beef (same sort of craving), and pineapple (I once ate a whole pineapple in one day!) Our friends also helped usto finish the baby’s room, which had been left half-done when I entered the hospital, and some friends paid for a housecleaner to come and lend a hand once a week for a few months (the only time we’ve ever had such a luxury — wonderful!)

Our baby was safely delivered — one week late … isn’t that the way?!

These days, I only eat fruita soupa on Christmas Eve, but with every bite I recall the kind souls who looked after us when we needed their help. And I remember the lesson I learned from that experience: people actually get pleasure from helping others, so it’s not only okay to ask for help if you need it, but you are, in essence, doing folks a favor by giving them an opportunity to feel good about themselves!

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8 Responses

  1. You will have to get pictures of this year’s lefse! 🙂

  2. This ‘soupa’ sounds wonderful. Definately an idea I would not have ever thought of. It sounds like it would be a great sub for dessert. When do you serve it, before, with, or after dinner?

  3. Christmas Eve is best spent with the family. That’s why we’ve reserved a special place for you. Thank you for being a part of our “family”. Thank you for caring about Mariel.

    Merry Christmas!

    Bong and Sam Bello ( and for sure from Mariel too )

  4. Ladybeams — I definitely serve it after dinner with the lefse and roomegröt. So sweet it’s a great dessert and replacemnt for higher calorie desserts. Thanks for stopping by!

    Thanks, Bong! May you feel Mariel among you this holiday season. Take care.

  5. My husband wants me to copy your lefse recipes. This was a traditional dish in his family, but he never learned how to make it. Now that his mom and grandma are gone, he’s determined to learn on his own. He hasn’t brought the special rolling pin and “the stick” back from his mom’s house yet. He’s planning on adding lefse to the Christmas table next year. This year is too full of just coping.

    That thing you said at the end of this post about allowing others to help…a friend of mine shared this with me in 1990, when I was in serious need of help, being a single mom, working too much, and still not making ends meet. She said it this way, “When you turn down someone’s offer of help, you actually rob them of the opportunity to give you a gift.” I’ve never forgotten it, have shared it often, and have watched it make a difference in people’s lives. Some of us think we can do it all. Others of us just want to help.

    Thank you for helping me each and every time you make a comment on mysteryoriley. I know you read more than you comment, as do we all, and you have touched my life by knowing you’re there and caring about us, strangers before we met through our connection of losing someone we love very much. Your grandma and my Owen, what a wonderful gift they’ve given us, by putting us in touch with each other.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Linda

  6. Just stopping by to wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2008! All the best for a fruitful year of writing in the coming year.

  7. Linda,

    Your comment meant so much to me. Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and for your warm sentiments! I feel grateful for the chance to get to know you through your blog. I have learned much from you about the resiliency of the human spirit and the power of love.

    Wishing you a year of growth, love, and renewal,

    writinggb

  8. Arti, hey, thanks for stopping by! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, as well!!

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