Potato leek soup & grilled cheese on rye

Settling in to her new home in Tromsø, what’s a former Seattleite to do? Give one of her favorite meals—grilled cheese and tomato soup—a decidedly Nordic touch

Photo: Dianna Walla Soup and a sandwich is anything but bland in this playful Nordic twist on a classic.

Photo: Dianna Walla
Soup and a sandwich is anything but bland in this playful Nordic twist on a classic.

Dianna Walla
Tromsø, Norway

My husband and I recently moved to Tromsø, in northern Norway, and when we arrived at the beginning of August the weather was chilly, overcast, and drizzly. It’s one of my favorite kinds of weather, to be honest, and one of my favorite meals to eat on a day like that is grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s a classic, and rightly so, but Norway’s not exactly famous for its tomatoes. While it’s certainly possible to use canned tomatoes for soup, we decided instead that in the spirit of the new Nordic food movement, we’d try a more local take on the comforting meal. Simple, warm, and seasonal, we landed on potato leek soup.

The recipe that follows is a simple one, so I encourage you to mix it up and embellish it as you like! For the soup I’ve called for rapeseed oil, which is grown and produced in Norway (unlike olive oil, which is imported) and has a slightly nutty taste that works well with the potatoes and leeks. Likewise I’ve called for a rye bread (a rye/wheat loaf will do better than an all-rye), another Nordic staple, to give the grilled cheese a heartier feel and complement the flavors of the soup. That being said, you should use whatever oil or bread you like best!

Photo: Dianna Walla

Photo: Dianna Walla

Potato Leek Soup
3 tbsps. rapeseed oil
3 medium to large potatoes (Yukon gold or other yellow potatoes), cut into ½-inch cubes
3 leeks, washed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
chopped green onion and a squeeze of lemon juice (to garnish)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes, until onion turns translucent. Add leeks and sauté for 3 to 5 more minutes.

Add the potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Using a hand blender, puree the soup until you reach desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. When serving, add a drizzle of oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and top with chopped green onion.

Grilled Cheese on Rye
2 slices rye bread of choice
mild yellow cheese such as gulost, sliced (Jarlsberg or Gouda make nice substitutes)

Butter both sides of each slice of bread, and place onto griddle or skillet over medium heat, flipping the bread slices as they begin to brown (being careful not to burn). Add 1-2 cheese slices to one slice of bread and stack the other slice of bread on top. Continue cooking until the cheese softens and melts.

Dianna Walla is a writer and knitwear designer living and studying in Tromsø, Norway. She writes about baking at cakeandvikings.com and about knitting at paper-tiger.net. Find her on Instagram at @cakeandvikings.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 25, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.