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Release date: 12/28/2004.

You'll find this recipe in it, From AN EXALTATION OF SOUPS,
copyright © 2004
by Patricia Solley,
Published by Three Rivers Press.

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Saltkjöt og baunir

(Icelandic Salted Lamb and Pea Soup)

This rich Icelandic soup recipe was contributed by Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir, author of Matarást ( or, Love of Food), a 700-page encyclopedia of Icelandic cooking that was shortlisted for the Icelandic Literary Prize in 1999. It contains some 1,600 recipes and 3,000 entries--and weighs nearly 7 pounds! Saltkjöt og baunir is what most Icelanders eat on Shrove Tuesday, or "sprengidagur" (literally "bursting day"). According to Nanna, "Tradition says you should eat as much (especially meat) as you possibly can, until you are about to burst. The reason for this is of course that in the old days, you would have been preparing for seven meatless weeks, so you better pig out. The soup is fairly similar to Scandinavian pea soups, except they are usually made with salted pork, not lamb." Salted lamb is not easy to find in many locations, but it is possible to substitute 1 pound of country ham and 2 pounds of fresh lamb for the bacon and salted lamb, below, to get a decent flavor of the dish. Serve hot as a meal to 8 people.

  • ½ pound (250 grams) yellow split peas
  • 8 cups (2 liters) water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp dried thyme, rubbed between the palms of your hands
  • ¼ pound (125 grams) bacon, cubed
  • 2 ½ pound (1,2 kg) salted lamb shoulder (cut in large chunks)
  • 1 pound (500 grams) rutabagas, cut in large cubes
  • 1 pound (500 grams) potatoes, peeled and cut in thick slices
  • ½ pound (250 grams) carrots, cut in pieces
  • pepper to taste--and salt, if it needs it
Nanna says: "Put the peas in a large pan and add water. Bring to the boil, skim, then add thyme and onion. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Add the bacon and one piece of meat to the soup and boil the rest of the meat in a separate pan. Simmer the soup with the meat for around 30 minutes, stirring frequently and adding more water if needed. Add the vegetables and cook for 20 minutes, or until tender. Season to taste with pepper and salt, if needed. The bean soup should be thick (when cold it almost becomes like pease pudding). The meat and vegetables may be served on a separate plate and eaten with the soup, or cut up small and returned to the soup."