23/02/2013

Kjötsúpa ... Icelandic Sheep Soup

Icelandic Sheep Soup
Kjötsúpa is a traditional Icelandic dish of sheep, onion and root vegetables fortified with brown rice, barley or more traditionally, rolled oats.

Reading around the topic, many people claim that the dish must have this ... or must have that ... for authenticity. Many dishes the world over are like that.

I had some at a simple café in Reykjavik and got all I needed to know about this warming, comforting homely dish.

From a paleo perspective, we should leave the grain out. More purist paleo eaters can happily leave the potato out.

For a purist paleo Kjötsúpa, begin by browning off some diced lamb, add an onion, roughly chopped, some garlic and top up with stock and herbs: thyme and rosemary. Let it stew for a good couple of hours before adding in cubed swede and carrot to cook through. Serve out with salt and black pepper, and a garnish of fresh parsley.

For a paleo+ Kjötsúpa, begin by browning off some diced lamb, add an onion (I went with half an onion and some leek), roughly chopped, some garlic and top up with stock and herbs: thyme and rosemary. Let it stew for a good couple of hours before adding in cubed potato and carrot to cook through. Serve out with salt and black pepper, and a garnish of fresh parsley.

This is what I did.

Next time, I'll take the inspiration and go with another Nordic meat: reindeer, simmered with swede and carrot.

On serving ...

Some Icelanders serve out the meat and roots onto a plate, the cooking liquor accompanying in a mug alongside. If you want to serve out this way, make the cubes of vegetables a little larger at around an inch square. When serving as soup, dice the vegetables a little smaller, say, to half an inch square.

One final thing ...

Sheep on Iceland outnumber humans by almost 2:1 - there are around half a million sheep on Iceland to around 230,000 people. It is also said that these sheep are the descendants of the original herds brought to the island by the first settlers, a fact that I find amazing.

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