From Iceland — Food of Iceland: Kjötsúpa — The Reykjavik Grapevine

Food of Iceland: Kjötsúpa

Food of Iceland: Kjötsúpa

Published March 7, 2020

Brought to you by
Valur Grettisson

Kjötsúpa, or Icelandic meat soup, is a meal that Icelanders have been eating for centuries—in fact, it’s one of the few traditional dishes still regularly eaten today. And what’s more, even all these years later, we still love it.

Centuries ago, in the early days of Iceland, we’d used fresh lamb meat for the soup, which was then mixed with some lactic acid to make it richer in flavour. How that works, to be blunt, genuinely beats us.

At the time, there were no vegetables in Iceland, and I mean none, but we’d try to kick the soup up a notch by adding grains, most often barley. Later, we used rice and oats—pretty glamorous, right? If you wanted to get even fancier, you could stir some sour skyr into it. That was just for fancy folk though.

If farmers didn’t have fresh lamb meat, they could also use salted meat, often beef. And if they wanted to go, full sociopath, they’d just slaughter a horse and throw that in the bowl. Yum.

In the olden days, kjötsúpa was a fancy meal eaten on Sundays or Christmas. Nowadays, it’s a pretty basic meal, mostly consumed by lonely middle-aged men. Why? It’s practical. You cook it up, keep it on the stove, and heat it up again and again for days—weeks even if you truly want to remind yourself just how sad your life has become.

Let’s be real though, kjötsúpa soup is good, hearty, and really gives you not only the energy you need, but deserve. So sip it up in the darkest days of Iceland.

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