Creamy Mussel Soup with Saffron
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes
… Serves 4
… Clean and scrape 31/2 pounds of mussels (use Bouchot mussels if you can get them) or get your fishmonger to do it for you.
… Peel and quarter 1 white onion. Wash and peel 3 or 4 medium potatoes (10 ounces), 1 leek, 1 celery stalk, 2 carrots, and 1 fennel bulb. Crush 1 garlic clove.
… Cut half the fennel and one of the carrots into very fine slivers. Set this julienne aside.
… Thinly slice all the other vegetables.
… Heat a splash of olive oil in a soup pot. Add the sliced vegetables and the garlic.
… Stir, then cover the pot and sweat for 10 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of water and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
… When the potatoes are nearly cooked (check with the tip of a knife), add the mussels, then 11/4 cups of white wine, 1 quart of lowfat milk, and 15 threads of saffron. Stir well and simmer until all the mussels have opened.
… Then take the mussels out with a slotted spoon and remove the shells.
… Set aside about 20 of them, and return the others to the pot. Blend with a hand blender until the soup is nice and smooth. Taste and adjust the salt seasoning. Add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
… Place the reserved julienne of vegetables in a (warmed) soup tureen and pour the hot soup on top, add the mussels, and serve.
AD— If you find your soup a bit too thick after blending, just thin it with a little water. The julienne of raw carrot and fennel adds a nice crunch.
PN— Check the freshness of the mussels and take out any that are open or broken. Shellfish are bursting with minerals, especially iron and magnesium, so this soup is perfect for recharging your batteries.
Bouchot mussels refers to the French technique of growing the mussels on large pilings, or bouchots, driven into the sea. They tend to be smaller than other varieties, but any small mussel will work in this recipe.
(* Recipe from 'Nature, Simple, Healthy and Good' by Alain Ducasse with Paule Neyrat-Rizzoli New York, March 2012- photography by Francoise Nicol, reproduced with permission of publisher, all rights reserved)