Bringing Icelandic Lamb Soup Home

Did you know that sheep outnumber people in Iceland 3:1?

Bring this hearty Icelandic lamb soup into your home with this simple recipe.

Our trip to Iceland was an adventurous family experience. The landscape looked like a different planet.

There is nowhere you can be lowered 400 feet into a volcano except in Iceland. Hot water gushed from the ground seemingly on command when it stopped raining, and the evening sun was endless. Although many tourist attractions were quite pricey, there are plenty of beautiful views in Iceland that are free.

Sunset view from our balcony.

The people in Iceland are very warm, welcoming, and accepting. I met one of the contributors to my book, Heiðdís Guðna, with her partner and children in a pizza restaurant. They invited us to their house to meet their new puppy, Thor. To our delight, the puppy was just as friendly and fun as his parents.

Sheep were scattered throughout the landscape. As a matter of fact, sheep outnumbered humans in 3:1! Hence, the delicious staple in Iceland is lamb soup. During the trip, I asked several people how they made their lamb soup.

Our favorite lamb soup was at Icelandic Street Food in downtown Reykjavik. My daughter and her friend couldn’t get enough of their delicious food and celebratory atmosphere.

The consensus is that this hearty soup recipe has variations of lamb, water, spices, and vegetables. In addition to the traditionally used vegetables, you may add any extra vegetables available. Many Icelandic residents use a “powder packet” of dried and frozen vegetables and herbs to add flavor.

So based on word-of-mouth, we came home and created Icelandic Lamb Soup.

A sweet sheep friend in Iceland.

Icelandic Lamb Soup


  • 5 pounds of lamb on the bone
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 cups of rutabaga
  • 2 cups potatoes (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 cup carrots (cubed)
  • 1 cup cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
For a lovely presentation, add a rosemary sprig.


Cut the fat off the meat (unless you want the fat for taste). Place meat in a large pot. Add 10 cups of water. Boil for 5 minutes, lower heat to medium, and skim the excess residue off the top of the water.

Add salt, pepper, parsley, celery, thyme, the bay leaf, onion, and carrots. If needed, add more water to cover the meat. Boil for 45 minutes.

Stir in the rest of the vegetables, except the cabbage. Boil for 20 minutes.

Next, add cabbage, and boil for 10 more minutes. Turn heat to low. Gently remove the lamb from the bone. Chop the lamb into pieces and place back in the soup. You may add more salt or pepper if desired.

Icelandic Lamb Soup is even better the next day after the flavors have had time to settle in the pot. This soup is now a nostalgic dish in our home which reminds us of Iceland’s vast richly, beautiful landscape and gracious new friends.

Reynisfjara on the South Coast of Iceland. My son is the blue dot on the left. 
Peaceful, beautiful Skógafoss Waterfall.
On the way to the abandoned airplane at Sólheimasandur.

Credit for most photos: Sydney Lewis

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Lisa Lewis, MD

Physician / Pediatrician
Dr. Lisa Lewis is a pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Lewis is inspired by child health discussions and parenting across cultures. Her first book, FEED THE BABY HUMMUS, Pediatrician-Backed Secrets From Cultures Around the World, was released March 1, 2018 by Familius.

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