Jo's Icelandic Recipes

Soups, Stews & Puddings
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Soups, Stews & Puddings

The last time I added a recipe to this page was in October 2002

Brauđsúpa - Bread soup Saltkjöt og baunir - Salt meat & split pea soup
Kjötsúpa - Traditional lamb soup/stew  Fjallagrasamjólk - Soup made with Iceland Moss 
Rabarbaragrautur - Stewed rhubarb  Makkarónumjólk - Elbow macaroni in milk 
Hrísgrjónagrautur - Rice Pudding Ris a la mande - Danish Christmas pudding 
Bláberjasúpa - Blueberry Soup Ávaxtagrautur - Stewed dried fruit
Flauelsgrautur - Velvet Pudding Fiskisúpa - Fish soup
Eggjamjólk - Egg soup


Eggjamjólk - Egg soup
Serves 5

Similar to egg-nog, but without the alcohol. The original recipe includes raisins/or prunes, which I prefer to leave out. 
1250 g milk 2 tblsp flour
1-2 ea eggs 1-2 tblsp. sugar or brown sugar
to taste vanilla flavouring  
Break the egg(s) into a bowl or soup tureen and whip with the sugar until light and frothy. Mix together the flour and 200 ml cold milk. Bring the rest of the milk to the boil.  When the milk boils, remove from the heat and pour slowly into the egg/sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Add vanilla flavouring to taste. Sprinkle sugar on top to prevent a skin from forming. Serve immediately.
-Original recipe: Soak 2 tblsp raisins or 10 prunes in a little hot water for 5 minutes. When the milk is hot, but not boiling, add the raisins (pour off the water first). When the milk boils, add the flour/milk mixture and cook on low for 10 minutes. Finish the recipe as above. This is the original recipe, but since I don't like cooked raisins, I leave them out.
-To be used with either of the above variations: Use two eggs. Separate the yolks and whites. Mix the yolks with sugar, and whip the whites until stiff. When the soup is ready, float spoonfuls of egg whites on top of it. If you have ovenproof soup dishes, put the soup in a hot oven with top heat and remove when the egg whites begin to turn yellow. 
-Use twice as much flour to make a pudding. Serve warm with  milk/cream and sugar.
Recipe taken from Helga Sigurđardóttir's "Matur & Drykkur", Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1986 (1947).

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Saltkjöt og baunir - Salt meat & split pea soup

Shrove Tuesday is called "Sprengidagur" (Bursting Day) in Iceland. This is the last day before Lent, and during the time when Icelanders still generally observed the fast, it was the last day on which meat could be eaten until Easter. The origins of the Icelandic name for this day are uncertain, but today it is generally taken to mean "eating until you feel like you're bursting". Split pea soup and salted mutton is the traditional meal for this day, and has been since the 19th century. 
2 ltr water 500 g. lamb meat*
200 g. yellow split peas 1 tsp.  salt
500 g. potatoes 1 ea.  onion
500 g. carrots and rutabagas 3-4 slices smoked bacon (optional)
*traditionally salt cured, but fresh can be substituted. Salt pork can also be substituted. 
Soak the peas for time indicated on packaging. Boil the water. Cut onion onto chunks and add to the water with the meat and peas, and cook for about 1 hour. If you are using bacon, cook with the rest for the last 1/2 hour. Potatoes, rutabagas and carrots can either be cooked separately, or with the rest, for the last 1/2 hour. 
Some people will eat the meat and potatoes first, others will cut them up and add to the soup. Some people also add milk to the soup just before serving.
The recipe comes from the teaching leaflet "Súrt og Sćtt", by Sigríđur Sigurđardóttir, published by Byggđasafn Skagfirđinga, 1998. Historical information comes from "Saga Daganna", by Árni Björnsson - Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1993).

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Brauđsúpa - Bread soup
Serves 5

Thriftiness is a strong trait in many older Icelanders, especially the generations that were born before World War II. Everything had to be used up, and throwing away leftover food amounted to a domestic crime. This thick soup is one way of using up bread leftovers and crusts.
200 g rye bread or assorted bread leftovers* 1250 ml water
2 tblsp raisins OR 4 prunes 1 tblsp orange marmalade**
6 slices lemon*** 2-3 tblsp sugar
100 ml cream, whipped    
* must be at least half rye bread. **optional.  ***replace with orange/lemon zest or a cinnamon stick for variety. 
Soak the bread in the water overnight, or until the crusts are soft. Puree in a blender and cook on low for 1 hour. Add the raisins, lemon slices and sugar and cook for about 10 minutes more. Serve warm with whipped cream.
Recipe taken from Helga Sigurđardóttir's "Matur & Drykkur", Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1986 (1947).

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Fish soup #1

I sometimes make this delicious fish soup. It's espcially warming on a cold winter's evening. 
I adapted the recipe from one I found on a packaging for fish bouillon.
Serves 4.
4-5 ea. potatoes 1 ea. onion
2 tblsp. olive oil 1 ltr water
1 tblsp. fish bouillon 1 sprig thyme or basil
2 ea. garlic cloves, pressed 8-10 ea. sun-dried tomatoes
2 ea. carrots 1 tsp. lemon juice
400-500 g. white fish or 250 g. white fish and 250 g. shrimp, lobster and/or scallops
optional: broccoli, cauliflower, celery, chives, parsley
Dice the potatoes and onion and lightly fry in the oil (use a deep saucepan or soup pot). Add the water, fish bouillon, thyme, garlic and sliced sun-dried tomatoes*, and cook for approx. 10 minutes. Julienne the carrots  and add to the soup. If you are using broccoli or cauliflower, slice broccoli stalks and cut cauliflower into small florets and add with the carrots. Cook for approx. 5 minutes. If using, julienne the celery and cut broccoli heads into florets and add. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Cut the fish fillet(s) into strips (cut fillets across). Add fish and shellfish (if using) and cook until done - approx 5-7 minutes, depending on size and thickness. (If you are using scallops, let them cook for a maximum of 2 minutes only, as they will become as tough as old chewing gum if overcooked.) Add lemon juice. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with finely cut chives or small sprigs of parsley.
-serve with crusty bread and perhaps a fresh salad.
*If the tomatoes are dry, prepare as indicated on packaging - if they are in oil, drain before adding to the soup.

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Kjötsúpa - Traditional Icelandic Lamb soup/stew

There is a recipe for this soup in almost every Icelandic home. No two are the same, and most are not really recipes, but more like general guidelines. It is very hard to put down a measured recipe, since the ingredients available will vary, and so will the taste, mood and inclination of the cook! The following is one variation, which I have tried to make as authentic as possible. The measurements are not meant to be taken too seriously, and should be varied according to taste and availability of ingredients. I have marked the absolutely necessary ingredients with an asterisk (*). These are only necessary for authenticity - you can make the soup any way you please....
Cooking time: ca. 60 minutes, 10-15 minutes preparation. Serves 4-6.
1 1/2 litre  Water* (less if you want a stew)  500 g  Lamb or Mutton* 
1/2 medium  Onion*  100 g  white cabbage* 
2 medium  Carrots*  1/2 dl  rice* or rolled oats 
1/2 small  Rutabaga*  cauliflower, divided into florets 
sliced  leeks  cubed  potatoes 
Bring the water to boil. Rinse the meat with cold water and drop in the boiling water. Lower temperature to medium. Allow meat to cook for about 2-3 minutes. Skim and add salt. Cook for 30 minutes. Add rice/oats (if using). Cook over low temperature for 10 minutes. Add carrots, onion and cabbage, cauliflower, rutabaga, potatoes and leeks (if using). Cook for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Skim off fat before serving.

Serve the meat on a platter with some potatoes (if you cooked them in the soup, don't bother to remove them). Some people will eat the meat and potatoes first, others will cut them up and add to the soup. Some people also add milk just before serving. Save some soup for the next meal. Like its Italian cousin, the Minestrone, this tastes even better the next day.

Some pointers:
-for a more wholesome soup, use brown rice instead of white and cook with the meat the whole time. 
-if you can get freshly harvested organic potatoes, cook and eat them with the skin. 
-some cooks sauté the meat before cooking - it adds flavour to the soup. 
-you can make the soup with just bones, and serve as a starter. 
-try using powdered coriander and/or saffron in the soup - it adds a wonderful middle-eastern style flavour. 
-Some cooks use bouillon cubes/powder for added flavour, others rely on getting enough taste from the meat.                                                                                      

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Fjallagrasamjólk -   Iceland Moss Soup 

- A very healthy, nourishing soup.

Iceland moss (Cetraria islandica) is very versatile. In spite of the name, it isn't a moss at all, but a lichen. It's used in cosmetics (especially creams and ointments), medicines and nutritional supplements  (it is an excellent remedy for coughs and digestive problems), and as food. In olden times it was also used for colouring wool. In modern times, it is also used as a flavouring for a special schnapps.

Iceland moss also grows in other northern countries, but as it is very sensitive to pollution, it is not much harvested. If you want to try the recipe, I recommend buying some from Iceland (Heilsuhúsiđ may have it). It tastes very bitter when used in teas and infusions, but cooking it in milk, like in this recipe, removes most of the bitterness.

This soup is very nourishing and tasty. It is up to you if you choose to actually eat the moss or just use it as a flavouring (it gets pretty slimy when you cook it). As far as I know, my mother has never even tried to make "Fjallagrasamjólk", but I sometimes get it at my grandmother's. She also makes a mean cough syrup with Iceland moss, which tastes extremely bitter in spite of it being saturated with sugar!


1-2 fistfuls  Iceland moss  1 litre  whole milk 
2-3 tblsp.  brown sugar  1/2 tsp.  salt 
2 litres  whole milk  30-40 gr.  Iceland moss 
50 gr.  sugar  pinch salt 
Clean the lichens well (this includes picking off any remains of moss). Flush the lichens with cold water and chop them up. Bring the milk to the boil and add the lichens. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and sugar and serve. 

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Rabarbaragrautur - Stewed Rhubarb

Rhubarb grows in almost every vegetable garden in Iceland, right alongside the potatoes. In the summer, it is mostly used for soup and "grautur" (thick stew). It is preserved mostly as jam, but it also freezes well, and tastes excellent when preserved in syrup. There are many homes where rhubarb soup/porridge is eaten throughout the winter. It is also good for desserts (especially pies and compote) and chutneys, and it makes excellent wine.

My mother used to make rhubarb porridge about once or twice a month through the summer when I was little, but after my brother decided that he didn't like it, she hardly ever makes it anymore.

3/4 litres  water  3-3 1/2 tblsp.  potato starch/cornflour 
250 g.  rhubarb  100 ml.  water, cold 
200 ml.  sugar     
Wash the rhubarb and chop into small pieces. Drop into cold water and bring to the boil. Cook until the rhubarb pieces separate. Add the sugar and thicken with the potato starch. Don't close the pot, it makes the rhubarb loose its colour. Pour into a bowl, sprinkle with sugar and serve hot or cold, with cream or half and half. 
-To make rhubarb soup: follow the above recipe, but only use about a quarter of the starch. Serve hot. 
-Replace part of the rhubarb with strawberries for a delicious alternative. 
-If the soup/porridge looks unappetizingly green, add some red food coloring. This will not be necessary if you are using the red rhubarb variety.

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Makkarónumjólk - Macaroni in milk

This was a very popular soup in my home when I was little. Every time I taste elbow macaroni in sweet milk, it brings back childhood memories. We hardly ever have it anymore, like so many of my old favourites.
1 1/2 litre  milk  60 gr.  elbow macaroni 
1/2 litre  water  1 1/2 tblsp.  sugar 
1 12 tsp.  salt  some  cinnamon 
Cook the macaroni in the water as indicated on the packet. Add the milk, sugar and salt and heat to boiling. Skim and serve with cinnamon sugar. 

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Hrísgrjónagrautur - Rice Pudding

This pudding is sometimes jokingly called "Steingrímur", after a former prime minister of Iceland. Apparently it's his favourite food.

This lovely pudding is served for lunch at my parent's house almost every Saturday, and we all love it. This is a cheap, nourishing, tasty meal, which I make way too seldom in my own home.

At Christmas, we have a small serving of rice pudding before the main meal of hangikjöt. Mother hides a peeled almond in the pudding and we each choose one bowl. The person who finds the almond (usually my brother) gets a small gift, typically some chocolate.
1/2 litre  water  200 gr.  rice (do not use quick-cook or instant) 
1 1/2 litre  whole milk  1 tsp.  salt 

Cook the rice in the water until it's almost completely absorbed. Add the milk and lower the heat to simmer. Continue cooking until the rice is tender (the whole process takes about an hour). Add salt and serve with cinnamon sugar.

- cook a handful of raisins with the rice for a few minutes before serving, for an authentic, old-fashioned "rúsínugrautur" (raisin' pudding).

- The pudding is usually eaten with milk or "saft" - a sweet drink made with berry syrup (raspberry, red currant or crowberry tastes best). Some people serve the pudding cold with hot caramel sauce at Christmas.

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Bláberjasúpa - Blueberry/bilberry Soup

What we call "bláber", or "blueberries" in Iceland are actually bilberries. Either bilberries or blueberries can be used in this recipe.
250 gr. blueberries/bilberries, fresh or frozen 1750 ml. water
approx. 150 gr. sugar    
30 gr. potato starch/cornflour 100 ml. cold water
Drop the berries into boiling water and cook on low until they burst, 3-5 minutes. Mix together potato starch/cornflour and cold water. Add sugar to the soup and stir until melted. Thicken with potato starch/cornflour mix. Serve and enjoy.
-Use more thickening mixture to make a blueberry pudding. Pour into a bowl before it stiffens and sprinkle sugar on top. Serve warm or cold with milk or cream (or half and half).

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Ávaxtagrautur - Stewed dried fruit

This is one of my father's favourite dishes. He likes it best with lots of sugar and cream! 
It can either be served for lunch, or as a delicious dinner dessert.
150 g. mixed, dried fruit - usually prunes, apples, apricots, pears and peaches
100 g. sugar 900 ml. water
30 g. potato flour mixed with 100 ml. cold water
Cook the fruit in the water until soft. Press through a sieve or process in a blender if you desire a finer texture. Add sugar and thicken with potato flour mix. Serve hot or cold, with cream or half & half.

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Flauelsgrautur - Velvet Pudding

Like Macaroni in Milk, this is a definite comfort food for me. The smooth texture of the pudding makes it feel like soft velvet on the tongue - thus the name. Serves 6.
175 g butter 250 g flour
2 ltr milk 2 tsp salt
Melt the butter and add the sifted flour. Add boiling milk and mix well. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Adjust flavour with salt. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve with milk or sweet berry juice (make from berry syrup or use sweetened juice).

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