Amidon couple cooks unique dish to capture major award

Eating oxtail consommé, a historic food of nobility, was a tradition for Linda Narum and her family. Since she was 10 years old, she would help make the clean, savory meat soup.

Harold and Linda Narum of Amidon were the winners of the eighth annual Gourmet Soup Kitchen charity fund raiser, held Oct. 3 in Fargo. Called the “Rain Makers” of Amidon, the couple traditionally is active in southwestern North Dakota and commonly holds large feasts for friends, family and community members. (Photo by Bryce Martin)
Harold and Linda Narum of Amidon were the winners of the eighth annual Gourmet Soup Kitchen charity fund raiser, held Oct. 3 in Fargo. Called the “Rain Makers” of Amidon, the couple traditionally is active in southwestern North Dakota and commonly holds large feasts for friends, family and community members. (Photo by Bryce Martin)

By BRYCE MARTIN | N.D. Group Editor
bmartin@countrymedia.net

Eating oxtail consommé, a historic food of nobility, was a tradition for Linda Narum and her family. Since she was 10 years old, she would help make the clean, savory meat soup.

“Daddy had always told us it was the most expensive soup you could buy in New York City and Chicago,” Linda Narum, 70, of Amidon raved.

So it was this soup that she and her husband, Harold Narum, found fitting to ladle out for guests at the eighth annual Gourmet Soup Kitchen charity fundraiser Oct. 3 in Fargo.

They just happened to walk away with the soup tasting event’s top prize, the Silver Ladle Trophy.

Consommé is a type of clear soup made from richly flavored stock that has been clarified using a process to remove fat and sediment known as a “raft.”

To ensure that the consommé is absolutely clear, a “raft” of ground beef and egg whites, along with assorted vegetables, is used to absorb impurities, producing an elegant soup with concentrated flavor.

Combined with the consommé is roasted oxtail. They also made little German dumplings for the taste testers to set on top, if desired.

“They’d taste it and go to the next soup,” Harold, 75, said. “First they’d ask for a teaspoon or maybe a tablespoon.”

“With a facial expression,” Linda added with a laugh. “I even heard one person say, ‘I though there’d be hair on it.’”

Once people set aside their uneasiness and tried the unique concoction, it became a quick hit at the Gourmet Soup Kitchen.

With 540 people in attendance at the Fargo event, the Narums had to start with butchering and roasting a lot of oxtail, 13 heads to be exact. Though considering the large meals the couple has hosted in the past, it wasn’t going to be too difficult.

Linda, a retired NDSU extension agent, spent five days making the dish, with Harold’s help.

As the oxtail and its ingredient rich broth was finished, the consommé raft was made, quite a daunting task for the average homemade cook. Just to clarify the soup she needed 70 eggs and 39 pounds of ground beef, which weren’t supposed to be served per the recipe.

But the two wasted nothing in their preparation of the meal.

The egg and meat part of the “raft” was given to their friend’s hunting dogs for a protein rich treat and the celery, carrots and onions were also given away.

Linda had a chance encounter during the event that brought the night into perspective when an elderly man had finally gotten up the courage to try a spoonful.

He tasted the soup and noted how good it was.

“I said to him your mama would have been proud of you,” she said.

It turned out his mother was the one who had taught Linda at North Dakota State University how to make consommé.

“He actually teared up because he hadn’t had anybody make that kind of a comment, I’m sure, in years,” she said.

The Gourmet Soup Kitchen was held by Churches United for the Homeless, based in Moorhead, Minn. Each year “celebrity” chefs, from mayors and dignitaries to random community members, are invited to prepare their top soup recipe and serve to hundreds of people. The guests use dollar bills to vote for their favorite of the evening. Those funds then go to support the area’s homeless.

Harold and Linda were nominated as “celebrity” chefs for the event by their Lutheran parish in Wahpeton, where they stay in an apartment when Harold goes to complete for chemotherapy treatments in Fargo.

“Holy cow, it was on my bucket list,” Linda said when she was told they would participate in the event.

The couple invited two guests to accompany them, Todd and Darcy (Pope) Fuchs, with whom the Narums have been friends for decades.

“I was surprised when their names were called,” said Todd Fuchs. “The soup was wonderful, but the love in that soup, or maybe the love in all the dinners cooked month after month by a couple that travels 375 miles plus the 50-mile round trip to Wahpeton to cook it, was tasted by all who sampled it.”

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