This post has been in my draft queue for quite a while. Every time I get writing, I need to stop and walk away as it makes me too emotional. I love food (duh), but food was a big part of my upbringing and family life. This past year, things changed.
My grandparents immigrated from Denmark to
the middle of nowhere Northern Ontario in the 1950s. While a mining job brought them to the area, they eventually were drawn back to their “roots” so to speak. In Denmark, Grandpa was a butcher and Grandma was a cook. First, the family had a butcher shop and then a family restaurant. The restaurant has been in our family since the 1970s. Grandpa, grandma and the kids worked various jobs over the years, off and on. It’s always felt like home. We have many Danish family recipes, many of which are deliciously unhealthy, but
My uncle had been running the restaurant for the last several years. This past fall, he passed away very suddenly from a heart attack, while renovating the restaurant in the off season. My kind, generous, happy-go-lucky uncle is sadly missed every day… I am surprised how emotional I get when I think about how unfair it is that he was taken from us too young. I can’t even look at a photo without tearing up.
One night, he randomly knocked on my door and I was stunned to see him standing there smiling and waving into the window as I stomped to the door wondering who would have the audacity to knock on my door at 7:30 pm on a weeknight. He was quite possibly the last person I expected to see standing there given that I live 1000 km away from my hometown. He was in town just for the night running an errand with his extended family and although I had missed his call earlier he took the chance to stop by anyway. We had coffee, we laughed, and he showed me how to properly use my knife sharpening steel. I knew if anyone could teach me it would be him. I think of him every time I sharpen my knives.
I also think of him every time I make one of our family recipes, like Aebelskiver (definitely not healthy by any stretch of the imagination – I even have the pan my grandma brought over from Denmark in the 50s!), and most especially Danish Soup.
I don’t know if Danish Soup has a real name, or if it’s just some weird family recipe that we completely made up, but it is damned delicious. Trust me.
Start some chicken stock. You’ll have leftover bones etc. after you make some roasted chicken. This can be made in advance, but please don’t be lazy and use canned broth. Please don’t!
Once your stock is ready (or thawed!), add your veggies. You need carrots, onions, celery and leeks. Leeks are crucial or you’re not doing it right!
Then, you’ll make some meatballs! This little meatball press gadget is another one that I got from Grandma – No idea what it’s actually called or where you’d get one – but I’m fairly sure that it is even older than my mom, never mind myself!
Meatball (Danish Meatballs. Frikadeller)
- 1lb ground pork
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 egg
- 6 tbs of flour (optional – I leave it out to be paleo friendly)
- 1 cup of milk or club soda (guess which one I use!)
- salt, pepper, and allspice. A good 1tsp of each. Maybe more all spice. I love the all spice.
Mix all the ingredients together until smooth. I use an electric mixer. You should too. Load it up into your magic meatball press thing. (Or, use a spoon). You can also pan fry these, but I cook them in the soup when I’m making the soup.
Here’s my lame photo of the finished product. Now, Danish soup usually always has dumplings in it as well. I’ve yet to paleo-fy these, but if you want to live dangerously, the recipe is just a choux pastry cooked in the soup, instead of baked.
The soup was always quite popular at our family restaurant. When it was on special and I would be eating lunch there, 7 year old me would go up to the pot and scoop myself out a bowl with nothing but dumplings and broth. Mmmm.
The next time I make this I’ll update with better photos. But, I needed to get this post off my chest right now… It’s been nine months, and I still miss you.
p.s. When you panfry the meatballs they are also delicious.