I love trying traditional food whenever I visit new places so ordering it from the lunch buffet in the geysir visitor centre at Haukadalur was a given. To be honest, besides the beautiful stonewear bowl it was served in, it didn't look too impressive. It seemed really watery with bits of lamb, potato, carrot, turnip and onion floating around…I'm really selling it, hey?! Not wanting to give up on it too early on I found a table with a great view of the geysirs and got stuck in.
Lesson from this - first impressions are sometimes a bit rubbish. It was full of flavour, the meat was so tender, the veg had just the right bite and it was perfectly seasoned. I polished off the meat and veg, dunked wedges of buttered bread and then slurped up the final drops of the broth. Feeling full and cozy I made myself a promise that I had to have this soup again. Iceland is a bit of a trek to go just for a bowl of soup so there was only one option - make it myself.
Most countries/regions have their own version of this type of lamb soup - "cawl" from Wales, Scotch broth from Scotland, Irish stew from Ireland, "Scouse" from Liverpool are but a few just from the British Isles…it's a hearty meal that goes a long way and doesn't cost a fortune. Some recipes call for some kind of grain (barley, rice or oats), some add bacon and the veggies can differ slightly. With quite a traditional dish like this, every family will have their own recipe which is, naturally, the only and best recipe, whatever the country!
For my recipe I used half a shoulder of lamb diced into bite-sized pieces. Put the lamb and bone into a large cooking pot and add the cold water. With the lid on, slowly bring to the boil, skim some of the scummy bits you get from boiling meat off the top and then add the onion, salt, pepper and herbs.
Keep the water at a slow boil for 40 minutes, lid still on, and then add the potatoes, turnip and carrots.
Boil for another 10-15 minutes until the veg start to get soft and then add the cabbage.
Continue boiling for another 5 minutes and then serve in a massive bowl with a hefty wedge of buttered bread.
I love how simple this is to make plus it makes quite a large batch which means I can freeze some portions so if I'm ever longing for Iceland I can defrost a bowl and then enjoy while trying to recreate the landscape with my volcanic lava candle holder in the background…
Does your family have a recipe for a traditional soup? I'd love to try it out so let me know!