Our menu for the evening consists of Icelandic lamb soup and a ‘Happy Marriage’ cake, two staples of Icelandic cuisine for a long time. Both dishes are easy to prepare and give you an authentic taste of Iceland.
Icelandic Meat Soup (Kjötsúpa)
Photo source: Eva Laufey Kjaran
This traditional Icelandic soup is made with lamb and vegetables and has been a lifesaver through the ages, in times when food was scarce and energy was needed to battle the elements. The most traditional version of the soup is made with potatoes, rutabagas and carrots. Modern versions usually contain onions and herbs but you can use whichever vegetables you have in your home and experiment. This beloved soup is a favourite throughout Iceland, and every household has their own recipe. The combination of lamb on the bone and root vegetables make for a flavourful, nourishing meal, and some recipes call for the dish to be made heartier sill by adding rice or rolled oats towards the end, which result in a thicker stew.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
3 pounds lamb, on the bone (shanks, thick chops or shoulder, whatever is cheapest)
1 medium onion, sliced
½ cabbage, roughly chopped
3 carrots, diced
½ rutabaga, diced
1 cup cauliflower florets (optional)
4 potatoes, diced
6 cups water
2 handfuls of fresh or dried herbs (we use rosemary, thyme and oregano)
1. In a large pot or dutch oven, briefly sauté the garlic in the olive oil for 1-2 minutes over medium heat (do not brown). Add the lamb pieces and brown on all sides. Add the sliced onion to the pot and sauté very lightly (about 1 minute), then pour in the water. Raise heat to high, bringing the soup to a low boil; allow to boil for 5 minutes, skimming away the froth as it rises.
2. Reduce heat to medium, stir in herbs, cover pot, and cook for 40 minutes.
3. Add vegetables. Cook, covered, for an additional 20 minutes, or until vegetables are fork-tender.
4. Remove meat and bones from pot, chop meat coarsely, then return. Warm for an additional 5 minutes. (Alternatively, some Icelanders will remove the lamb and potatoes from the pot and serve these on a plate, separately from the soup. If presenting the meal this way, chop the potatoes into larger, 1" chunks).
Icelandic ‘Happy Marriage’ cake (Hjónabandssæla)
Photo source: www.gotteri.is
This is an incredibly simple cake. A buttery oat crust filled with rhubarb jam. Again, every Icelandic household has their own version passed down from a cute little grandmother who has put her own twist on the recipe. The name alone is a reason to make it, and your guests will happily eat it!
This has never been a traditional Icelandic wedding cake, but the ingredients, oatmeal and rhubarb, are thought to be a perfect ‘match’. It was also believed that if a wife baked this for her husband, they would have a happy marriage. And, like marriage, this cake just gets better with age.
1cup quick oatmeal
1cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2cup brown sugar
1⁄2cup white sugar
1teaspoon baking soda
1cup salted butter(softened and cut into pieces)
1teaspoon vanilla extract
3⁄4cup rhubarb jam
1 pound rhubarb, sliced 1/2-inch thick (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Butter or grease a 9-inch cake or pie pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, brown and white sugar, and baking soda. Cut in the butter (as you would for pie crust); with a pastry blender or with your hands, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until well blended.
3. Beat in one egg and vanilla extract.
4. Press 2/3 of the cake dough into the bottom of the pan. Spread the rhubarb jam evenly over the layer, then crumble remaining dough over top of cake.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
6. Cool in pan on wire rack.
7. Slice and serve.
Enjoy your Icelandic feast!