On my mothers menu one cold October day 1957 she is making Norwegian “Betasuppe” (Rootvegetable and meat soup) and “Pannekaker” (thin pancakes). It is for 309 people and the total price per person is 1, 84 NOK (about 17 cents).
Norwegian “Betasuppe” is one of my absolute favorite Norwegian soups. It is a super tasty meat and vegetable soup. Since I was young and living in Norway the soup has been available in packages with dried ingredients in Norway, but it has not been available for purchase in Sweden where I have lived now since 1986. Every time I went to Norway over the years I would buy the packages and bring with me to Sweden. That way I had a little Norway in my culinary life now and then.
Going through my mothers recipes I just stared one day when I saw the main dish on the menu: Betasuppe! I had never even looked for the recipe to make it myself. I had just gotten used to these bags. So the recipe in my mothers book was from 1957, and actually an original recipe for this old, traditional dish. I just couldn´t wait to try to make it!
This soup is great even without the meat and will than be totally vegetarian.
I have now tried to calculate a more normal list of ingredients for few people. So here is my adjusted recipe for about 6 servings.
- 40 gr yellow peas
- 40 gr green peas
- 40 gr barley
- 200 gr carrots
- 200 gr cabbage
- 200 gr rutabaga
- 970 gr potatoes
- 40 gr leeks
- 10 gr celeri
- 485 gr meat (could be pork leg, mutton, beef, what you have)
- 485 gr saltet or smoked pork
- Broth enough to make the soup the thickness of your liking
- Black pepper
- 2 Bay leaves
Place barley in a bowl.
Cover the grains with water and let the grains swell – preferably overnight.
If you cook meat like pork legs/mutton or some other chunk of meat rinse in cold water.
Place in a pan and pour on boiling water until the meat is covered.
Add bay leaves, salt and pepper to the water.
Let the meat cook under a lid for 1,5 – 2 hours.
Pick up the meat and let it cool.
Prepare the soup
About 1, 5 l broth/spade from the pork leg/meat
Boil the grains in the broth from the pork leg/meat until they are cooked through.
Cut the bacon in small pieces.
Fry the bacon in a pan.
Cut all vegetables into small cubes. Put them in the pan with the bacon.
Add the broth and the barley to the vegetables.
Let it simmer until the vegetables are tender.
Cook until all the vegetables are cooked through.
Cut the meat into small pieces.
Put the meat in the casserole with the broth and the vegetables.
Taste with salt and pepper and if needed add more broth until the soup has the thickness of your liking.
Serve the soup with finely chopped parsley or other greens sprinkled over the soup. In Norway it would be eaten with flatbread. If you don´t have that use some other hard or soft bread with some butter.
When I made the soup I made enough to have left overs so I could portion to freeze. It is important that the soup has cooled down properly before you set it in the fridge or freezer.
I felt so happy after making the soup because it tasted exactly like “Betasuppe” should taste. I cannot believe I now have an original recipe and can make it from scratch!
For my soup I didn´t have pork leg or any other meat. I just couldn´t wait to make it. So I had salted pork which I used and I had some thin salted sandwich ham which I also used. And it was perfect as well.
The broth hardly needed seasoning since it gets it all from the vegetables and the meats. However if you don´t have the real broth from cooking meat you can use cube stocks if you feel you want more taste to the broth.
Here is also an adjusted recipe for the thin pancakes. In older days, even when I was growing up on our farm in Norway there would always be a main dish and a soup or dessert for dinner. When the soup is the main dish the pancake alongside serves as the dessert. I didn´t make the pancakes that day. The soup was more than enough and I just loved the outcome!
- 8 dl Milk
- 30 gr flour
- 60 gr sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 eggs
100 gr margarine for frying
200 gr blueberry jam for serving
Mix the ingredients and let it swell for a while.
Fry the pancakes and serve with jam along with the soup.
Betasuppe, my mothers original recipe
- 2 kg yellow peas
- 2 kg green peas
- 2 kg of barley
- 10 kg carrots
- 10 kg cabbage
- 10 kg rutabaga
- 50 kg potatoes
- 2 kg leeks
- 2 bunches of celery
- 25 kg mutton
- 25 kg salted or smoked pork
- Broth to wanted thickness of soup
- Bay leaves
- 40 l milk
- 1, 5 kg flour
- 3 kg sugar
- 4 tbsp salt
- 150 eggs
- 5 kg margarine
- 10 kg blueberry jam
Norwegian “Betasuppe” is one of my absolute favorite Norwegian soups. It is a super tasty meat and vegetable soup. Since I was young and living in Norway the soup has been available in packages with dried ingredients in Norway, but it has not been available for purchase in Sweden where I have lived now since 1986. Every time I went to Norway over the years I would buy the packages and bring with me to Sweden. That way I had a little Norway in my culinary life now and then. In the bag of soup ingredients there are these small bits of dried vegetables, barley and the spicing. You just mix it with water and then you can add meat or sausage if you wish. So there are some really old traditional dishes I have eaten this way over the years living outside of Norway.
Going through my mothers recipes I just stared one day when I saw the main dish on the menu: Betasuppe! I had never even looked for the recipe to make it myself. I had just gotten used to these bags. So I looked through the recipe and felt like for the first time I understood what was really in this soup. What I especially liked from my years eating it was the barley in it. However I wasn’t really aware that´s what it was as it is called “Bygg-gryn” in Norwegian. Here in Sweden all grains have different names so I didn’t even know what it would be called in Swedish. Now I know it is called “Korn”.
As I looked through the recipe I feel I for the first time saw what it contained, all these rootvegetables, the barley and the meat. Usually when I made it from the package I would add sausage which would be fast or maybe some leftover meat.
I realized that I have eaten this soup made from scratch so many times in Norway but not knowing it was the same soup as the packages. Since the soup recipe I was looking at was the most delicious meat and vegetable soup and we didn´t use the name “Betasuppe” for meat and vegetable soup made from scratch as I could remember. However most times eating meat and vegetable soup made from scratch there had not been barley in them.
So the recipe in my mothers book was from 1957, and actually an original recipe for this old, traditional dish. I just couldn´t wait to try to make it and taste it, to get to know if it would taste like I loved it and knew it from the packages. And I found it strange I thought this would be my measure, since most times you want a dish in a package taste like an original dish and not the other way around.
The first recipe for “Betasuppe” was written down in a Norwegian cookbook as early as 1831. It was not the first “Betasuppe” since it was already classified as a classic dish.
Barley is one of the world’s most important grains and probably the first grain that humans began to cultivate. Along with wheat, barley is our oldest cultivated plant. In the Nordic region, barley has long been the dominant crop and was used for both animal feed and as a raw ingredient in porridge, bread and various kinds of fermented drinks. In more recent centuries, cultivation of barley has gone down, first due to increased cultivation of oats and in more recent times, due to increased cultivation of wheat. Barley, like oats, has a higher content of soluble fiber, especially beta-glucan. High intake of beta-glucan from barley can cause lower levels of cholesterol in the blood. It has then also been proven that high intake of barley has a preventive effect on cardiovascular disease. Beta-glucan can regulate blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for diabetics and for preventing diabetes.