This unusual soup recipe was suggested by Nanna R�gnvaldard�ttir, author of Matar�st (or, Love of Food), an Icelandic cooking encyclopedia that was recently nominated for Iceland's Literary Prize. Nanna notes, "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 (for instance 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)." Serve hot in small bowls to 4 with the rest of the meal--there will be plenty of fish on the side for all. The soup is tangy sweetsour, like the sea--but with the soft rich warmth of plums, like the earth. Outstanding in small portions.
- 2 pounds (1 kg) halibut steaks
- 4 cups (1 liter) water
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- salt to taste
- 16 prunes, stoned and cut into 4 pieces
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- juice of ½ lemon, or to taste
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
Bring the water to the boil in a pan with vinegar, bay leaves, and some salt. Add the halibut and simmer at low heat until the fish is cooked through and just beginning to come off the bones. Strain most of the stock into a clean pan, add prunes and bring to the boil, but leave half a cup or so in the pan with the fish and keep warm. Beat the softened butter into the flour, and whisk into the soup to thicken it. Simmer for 5-8 minutes, then add lemon juice and sugar and season to taste. Serve the fish on a separate plate but with the soup.