Today is Shrove Tuesday. This day is called Sprengidagur (Bursting Day) in Iceland. This is the last day before Lent, and during the time when Icelanders still observed the fast, it was the last day on which meat could be eaten until Easter. The origins of the Icelandic name for this day are uncertain, but today it is generally taken to mean “eating until you feel like you’re bursting”. Split pea soup and salted mutton has been the traditional meal for this day since the 19th century.
2 l water
500 g lamb meat or mutton, preferably salt cured, or salt pork if lamb/mutton is not available
200 g yellow split peas
1 tsp salt
500 g potatoes
500 g carrots and rutabagas
3-4 slices smoked bacon (optional) – I use a lot more
Soak the peas for time indicated on packaging. Bring water to the boil. Cut onion into chunks and add to the water with the meat and peas, and cook for about 1 hour. If you are using bacon, cook with the rest for the last 1/2 hour. Potatoes, rutabagas and carrots can either be cooked separately, or with the rest, for the last 1/2 hour.
Remove the meat and potatoes and serve separately.
Some people will eat the meat and potatoes first, others will cut them up and add to the soup. Some also add milk to the soup just before serving.
The recipe comes from the teaching leaflet “Súrt og Sætt”, by Sigríður Sigurðardóttir, published by Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga, 1998. Historical information comes from “Saga Daganna”, by Árni Björnsson – Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1993).