Foods to share with family during the holidays

Keep warm with some cheese chowder, or enjoy a traditional Norwegian dessert

More stories from Winter Heffernan

April 3, 2023

When Riverview Cafe doesn’t sound appealing, Midwest Meals prides itself on being a healthy alternative.

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and Christmas decorations are already being put up around Eau Claire. Many people will be heading home to their family over fall break.

This season has made me look back to some of my family’s traditional foods so,here’s how to make a warm thanksgiving cheese chowder and lefse, a traditional Norwegian treat. 

Cheese chowder

During Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, my family will always pass out steaming bowls of this soup to everyone around the table. 

To make it you will need:

½ cup shredded carrots

½ cup diced celery

One 13 ounce can of chicken broth/stock

¼ cup chopped onions 

¼ chopped green peppers

Three tablespoons butter

Two cups milk

Four ounces gruyere cheese

Four ounces American cheese

The first thing to prepare is the broth for the chowder. To do this, mix the carrots, celery and broth together in a large pan or pot. This should be covered and left to simmer until the carrots and celery are tender.

Then, in a separate container, mix together the onions, peppers and butter. Leave this to cook on high. Once the vegetables are tender, mix in the flour and add the milk. Continue to cook this on high, while constantly stirring. Once the mixture is thick and it begins to boil, cover it and leave it to cook for two minutes.

Add the broth to the milk mixture. Once it begins to boil, immediately reduce the heat. Add the gruyere and american cheese. If you are not able to get gruyere cheese, any generic swiss cheese works just as well . Stir until it is melted.

Serve the cheese chowder warm, and with saltines or oyster crackers.


Lefse is a Norwegian flatbread that is spread with butter and cinnamon. If you want to try something new for a desert, try out lefse.

To make lefse you need:

3 cups freshly mashed potatoes

 ½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

½ tsp baking powder

Approximately 2 cups flour

Add the salt and butter to the potatoes. Mix the baking powder with a very small amount of flour, and add it to the potatoes.

Then, add just enough flour so the potatoes can be rolled thin on a floured board. Be sure to use as little flour as possible. 

Begin to roll them lightly and as quickly as possible. Take a small amount of batter and roll it into a thin large circle. Cook these circles on an ungreased griddle until each side is lightly browned. Repeat this process until you run out of batter.

To serve lefse, spread butter on each tortilla, cover the butter in sugar or cinnamon and roll the lefse up entirely.

Heffernan can be reached at [email protected].