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(Icelandic Lamb Soup)

This marvelous, authentic, and aromatic Icelandic soup is compliments of Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir, author of Matarást ( or, Love of Food), a 700-page compendium of some 1,600 recipes and 3,000 entries in the first ever Icelandic cooking encyclopedia. This soup, which is taken from Matarást, is--according to Nanna--what most Icelanders consider THE Icelandic soup, though she adds that "it is not really unique; Scottish and Welsh lamb soups are very similar and I´ve even got a Mongolian recipe for lamb soup (Guriltai shul) that is remarkably similar, except the meat is briefly stir-fried in the beginning, but the vegetables are exactly the same." That, of course, is a lesson in the transmigration of recipes. The fact remains, it's a hearty, wholesome, protein-rich soup that looks positively festive in the bowl when the vegetables are cut into a same-size dice: like a white-yellow-orange confetti soup. Serve hot to 6-8 people as a substantial meal.

  • 3 pounds (1,5 kg) lamb shoulder, on the bone, cut in large pieces
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 6 cups (1,5 liters) water
  • 2-3 tbsp dried mixed vegetables and herbs* (from a soup mix)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound (½ kg) rutabaga, cut in an even ½-inch dice
  • ½ pound (250 grams) small potatoes, peeled and cut in an even ½-inch dice
  • ½ pound (250 grams) carrots, peeled and cut in an even ½-inch dice
Nanna says: "Traditionally, fatty meat is used but many now prefer to remove most of the fat. Place the meat and onion in a large pan and pour cold water over it. Heat to boiling point, let boil rapidly for a few minutes, then skim. Add dried vegetables and some salt and pepper and simmer for around 40 minutes. Add rutabagas, potatoes and carrots and simmer for 20-25 minutes more, or until all the vegetables are tender. Season to taste. The meat is either served in the soup or removed and served on a separate plate, but it is always eaten with the soup. Some cut it up small, then add it back to the soup, others would eat it from a separate plate.

"Other versions of the soup may add or substitute other vegetables, like cabbage, kale or turnips, and a fistful of oats or rice was sometimes added to thicken it somewhat, but this is the version I like best; simple, clear and thin but tasty."

I also like the pure version, but tried the one with oatmeal too. It's excellent--very "stick to your ribs." It's also good the next day--and easy to pick the solid fat off after refrigeration.