This is the first of several posts about my recent trip to Iceland. My boyfriend (and fellow vegan) surprised me at Christmas with plane tickets and a hotel in Reykjavik. Best Christmas present ever! It was a great trip, and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Vegan travelers, there is food for you in Iceland!
Coconut soup. For reasons I can’t explain, it appeared on almost every menu we we saw during our short trip to Iceland. So we ate it. A lot of it. Four times in less than four days! And it was delicious every time. Although I don’t know the history of this food’s arrival on the Iceland food scene, I have to admit it makes sense. Iceland, while not nearly as cold as it’s name suggests, isn’t exactly tropical either. So a warm, creamy, sweet, mildly spicy soup is really the perfect antidote to those short, windy days!
My first bowl of this yummy soup was at a vegetarian restaurant called Graenn Kostur. They served a huge bowl of curried coconut broth, with just a few carrots and other veggies hidden away inside, served with a lovely green salad. Our first dinner out in Reykjavik and not a bad introduction to vegan eating in Iceland.
But the next day—the chilliest and greyest of the days we visited, and one that we spent wandering through Reykjavik and enjoying the harbor view with a strong dose of wind—we stumbled upon a really lovely restaurant called Kryddlegin Hjortu. The place itself feels like a cozy, colorful temple, accented by candles, pillows and Buddha statues. The soup and salad bar made for a perfect lunch. The salad was fresh and plentiful. There was homemade bread and homemade hummus. And there was, as you might have guessed, curried coconut soup. It was a little creamier and spicier than the previous day’s version, and a little heavier on the veggies. Bonus: the owner was very friendly and we enjoyed a nice chat with her. We loved hearing about her experiences traveling in Thailand and living in Miami, where she was introduced to organic and vegan foods. She told us that when she opened Kryddlegin Hjortu, she wanted it to be a place where vegans, vegetarians and carnivores could enjoy eating together, with good, organic menu items for all. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip—the food, the place, and the warm welcome.
That same evening, we had dinner at a noodle house called Nudluskalin. Knowing that being vegan travelers in a place known for seafood, sheep, puffin (yes, you read that right, puffin), yogurt and cheese wouldn’t necessarily be easy, we did some preparatory Googling for tips about where to go. Happy Cow was a great resource, as were vegan food and travel blogs and vegan foodies on Instagram. Nudluskalin was recommended by practically everyone and was very close to our hotel, so we had to give it a whirl. The atmosphere wasn’t much to write home about, but the soup was delicious and filling. My boyfriend had—of course—a coconut based soup, filled with noodles, veggies, and all kinds of good stuff. I had a veggie based soup, just to break things up a bit, and it was equally good. Maybe most people don’t go to Iceland for Asian noodle soup, but they should!
Our last coconut soup of the trip was at a tiny little place called Gardurinn. It’s run by followers of Guru Sri Chinmoy. I don’t know anything about Sri Chinmoy, but his followers in Reykjavik are humble, tranquil, sweet, and lovely, and they make a delicious coconut curry soup and a whole bunch of wonderful vegan desserts.
Photo credit: Josh Araujo