I am all for keeping up traditions and think they are a very important part of every nations culture. I have to admit, Icelandic cuisine is probably not the most exciting in the world and quite frankly some of the traditional food is not to everyones taste...! Fermented shark, sour ram's testicles, sheep's head, fermented skate and blood pudding are just a few of the strangest foods you can have there. But, what you will also find is the best lamb in the world (this is true ;) ), the most amazing fresh fish, really good dairy products and the cleanest water you will find. You can be sure that the Icelandic lamb is as free range as it gets. They have been roaming around the mountains eating grass, herbs and berries and it is the most tender lamb you will haver have. So when you are in Iceland you can certainly maintain a healthy balanced diet and eat world class food without going for the fermented skate or sour ram's testicles :)
One of the traditional ways to cook lamb is to make a soup out of it. Usually you would use cheaper cuts of meat, on the bone, and cook it with root vegetables and usually it's bulked up with some rice or oats. My mum used to cook a HUGE pot of it and then we would eat it for the next 3 or 4 days, and most people would tell you that it tastes the best on the last day. My mum makes a really really good one and I'm not even going to try and copy hers, so what I needed to do was to come up with my own version which I think is just as good, but different... It's got a lot of the flavour elements of the traditional one but I put my own twist on it and I usually make it from leftover leg of lamb. This time I used this spiced up leg of lamb that I had made the day before. You can use the recipe you like but this is a very good one! And you could also use other vegetables, the traditional ones are carrots, swedes and potatoes.
Leftover leg of lamb
1,5 litre water
1-2 chicken stock cubes
2 bay leaves
5-6 stalks of thyme
Big handful fresh parsley
1 small sweet potato
4 large potatoes
1/2 white cabbage
Start by removing all the meat from the bone and cut into bite size pieces. Put the meat and the bone into a large saucepan and cover with cold water, I used around 1,5 litre this time. Add the stock cubes, bay leaves, thyme stalks, chopped parsley stalks and roughly chopped onion. Bring this to the boil, lower the heat and let this simmer for at least 40 minutes but you can leave it bubbling for longer if you have got time, it will only do it good.
Peel all the root vegetables and cut into bite size pieces and add to the pan along with the finely sliced leek. Let this simmer for around 15 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.
5 minutes before serving you add the finely sliced cabbage and kale and once you have removed the soup from the heat you take out the bone and add the roughly chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. This is best served on its own, no bread needed. This is a really good, hearty winter food, full of goodness and flavour.