Icelandic Fish Soup

Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir has made it her life’s work to put traditional Icelandic dishes back in circulation. This is one of them. ‘Surprisingly, there are not many traditional Icelandic fish soups. In fact, there is only one, but there are several versions. Other types of fish may be used (salmon or trout); sometimes it is thickened with a couple of egg yolks instead of flour, or with pearl sago. Some rhubarb or raisins may be added, in addition to or instead of the prunes. This is an old soup; several versions are in the first cookbook that was published in Icelandic (written in 1783-1784). The soup is tangy sweetsour, like the sea, but with the soft rich warmth of plums, like the earth. Outstanding in small portions.’

  • 1 kg halibut or any fatty fresh fish, whole
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 lemon, small, juiced
  • 15 prunes, stoned
  • 2 egg yolks (optional)
  • 30 g pearl barley (optional)
  • 20 g butter (optional)
  • 20 g flour (optional)
  • 15 g sugar
  • 15 g white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp carrageen, soaked in warm water (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt, pinch

Place bay leaves, vinegar and a pinch of salt in a deep saucepan three-quarters filled with a litre of water. Bring to the boil, add fish, cover and reduce heat.

The fish is cooked when the flesh comes easily off the bones.

Strain the stock into a separate saucepan, add prunes and bring to the boil.

Keep the fish warm until ready to serve.

Thicken the stock with one of the four options.

Simmer for five minutes, add lemon juice, sugar and more salt if needed.

Remove the flesh from the fish, serve on a plate with boiled potatoes, the soup in a small bowl.