All Icelanders love Icelandic meat soup, and all Icelandic families have their favourite meat soup recipe – a recipe prized above all others – because mom’s or grandma’s soup is always best. Meat soup brings back fond memories, makes us smile and warms our hearts while being tasty, filling and nutritious. Free range Icelandic lamb, in-season vegetables and pure Icelandic water are what make this soup unique.
For several years, Icelandic meat soup has been celebrated on a special “Meat Soup Day,” held on the first day of winter on Skólavörðustígur street in Reykjavík. Restaurateurs came together on the festive occasion to offer up various versions of meat soup to guests and passersby, bringing together tourists and Icelanders over steaming bowls of stew. This year, the gathering ban due to the pandemic interrupted the street party, but sheep and vegetable farmers decided to partner up, and with help from the trusty entrepreneurs of Skólavörðustígur they found a new way to celebrate Meat Soup Day.
Chef Gísli Matthías Auðunsson compiled four different meat soup recipes, which were presented on Facebook. Icelanders then voted on their favourite soup, and it didn’t come as a surprise that the good old “Grandma’s soup” recipe came out on top. Gísli then taught viewers how to make the soup live on Facebook on October 24, the first day of winter according to Icelandic tradition.
Since Icelandic meat soup is a unique part of Iceland’s food culture, Icelandic Lamb wanted to share this classic recipe with our international friends.
Grandma’s Meat Soup
Cooking time: 2 hours
1.7 lb high-fat Icelandic Lamb meat
6 ½ cups water
8 new potatoes
2 rutabagas or Swedish turnips
8 small carrots or 4 big ones
1.4 oz dried soup herbs/vegetables*
1.4 oz pearl barley or white rice
Icelandic sea salt flakes
Start with cutting the lamb into bite-sized pieces and add to a pot with water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. While the water is heating up, cut the vegetables into small chunks. Once the water has started to boil, foam will float to the top: skim it off. Add the potatoes, carrots, barley or rice and soup herbs/vegetables and boil for 30 minutes. Add the turnips and boil until all of the vegetables are tender. Add salt to taste.
*Icelandic “súpujurtir” or soup herbs are a mix of dried herbs and vegetables. Look for a mix with leek or onion, carrots, and cabbage or lovage.