Icelandic fish soup
Iceland? I can’t think of a better way to describe this exceptional northern country than by introducing you to Haukur Morthens, the Blue Lagoon, the Sagas, folktales, elves, kleinur, kókosbollur, wool sweaters and fiskisúpa (fish soup). As my husband is Icelandic, I have had the chance to add another culture to my life. I am enchanted by Icelandic folklore, which is in many ways the foundation of Iceland’s spirit.
There is a very special place in Iceland close to my heart called Búdir in the Snæfellsnes peninsula. There you can find Snæfellsjökull, a 700,000 year old volcano with a glacier covering its summit. Very near Búdir is a tiny fishing village called Hellnar, where my husband and I have gone for long walks on the beach and adventuring about in caves where the colour and lighting are in tune with the movements of the sea, just out of a kaleidoscope dream. There is a small café, a tiny house on a cliff, where you can have kleinur (deep-fried pastry), waffles, and the classic Icelandic fish soup. Sitting there, on a beautiful day, looking at the sea made me fall in love with Iceland.
I have a collection of black rocks found on the beaches around Snæfellsnes, they are my little trophies of adventure, making me feel like a ‘Jules Verne’ heroine. They have somehow become my lucky rocks, captivating thousands of years of history. Geologists have a saying – rocks remember…
You can find fish soup almost everywhere -it embodies the nation’s tradition where fish is very much part of daily life. Everybody has their own version, consisting of vegetables melted in butter, covered in stock and white wine, throwing in the fish last-minute. And lots of cream for those who like it.
Ingredients: (serve 6-8)
3-4 tbsp butter
2 small onion – finely sliced
1/2 leek – finely sliced
3 tomatoes – chopped into very small pieces
2 small stalks celery, finely sliced
1.5 liters chicken or vegetable stock/ 6 cups
200 ml cream/ 4/5 cups (you can add less if you wish, or none)
100 ml/ 1/2 cup sherry or port or Noilly Prat
3 tbsp tomato concentrate
1/2 tsp saffron powder (optional)
3-4 tbsp wine vinegar
160 ml/ 3/4 cup dry white wine
400 g/ 4 cups small shrimps (without shells)
500 g/ 5 cups mixed nordic fish – salmon, haddock, plaice, halibut – cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a large pot, add all the vegetables (except the tomatoes) and cook for 10 minutes until tender. Add sherry/noilly prat/port and white wine and reduce for 4 minutes. Add the stock, tomato concentrate, saffron and vinegar. Boil for 15-20 minutes. Add the fish, shrimps and chopped tomatoes, bring to a soft boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add cream and stir. It is important not to make the soup boil again (as the cream might ‘break’/curdle).
Serve with some warm bread and butter on the side.