As if the Danish language was not hard enough to learn.
For us well-intentioned foreigners who have attempted to have a go at the language, there is an inside joke among our Danish counterparts when it comes to testing our purported linguistic skills. Simply put, it is saying the expression “rød grød med fløde” which means “red berry soup with cream.” Rest assured, if you wish to humor your Danish friends and family or fill an awkward lull at a Danish party, all you need to do is say this phrase. It never fails, in a Groundhog-Day sort of way. Your hosts will double over in laughter with tears streaming down their cheeks. Conspiratorily winking at each other, they will properly repeat the words to you and coax you to try again, eagerly awaiting the results. Easily amused is all I have to say. So, what is it about this phrase that never ceases to delight? Suffice to say, that if you can even get your mouth around the correct sound for an “Ø”, you will stumble miserably when you try to pronounce the “D”, which when done properly in Danish, actually sounds as though you are saying the letter “D” with a mouth full of, well, red berry soup.
With that said, the upside is that even if the phrase is difficult – if not embarrassing – to pronounce, the dessert itself is sheer delight. A traditional Scandinavian summer dessert, Red Berry Soup makes use of the region’s prolific berry season: strawberries in the beginning followed by raspberries, black currants, red currants, blackberries and blueberries. Any combination of the berries are cooked with sugar, then chilled and served with whipped cream or crème fraiche
. Sometimes lemon or vanilla is added, or even chopped almonds for a more toothsome texture. Every home has its own version. The result is a fresh, simple and delicious dessert making use of what the Nordic summer season has to offer – as unfailing as the response I get whenever I say rød grød med fløde.
Red Berry Soup with Cream – Rød Grød med Fløde
2 1/2 lbs. mixed summer berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, red and black currants
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Whipped cream or crème fraiche
Mint leaves for garnish
In a heavy medium-sized saucepan combine berries and sugar. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves and berries release their juices, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Cool and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours before serving. Serve with whipped cream or crème fraiche. Garnish with mint leaves.
Note: Any combination of berries may be used. Depending on the combination and acidity of the berries, additional sugar may need to be added. Try to include black currants, if you can, as their firm texture and astringency add extra complexity to the sweet soup.