You already know how much we love all types of sea food. Actually, so much, that from time to time we overestimate our appetite and find ourselves with large quantities of leftovers.
This particular soup was “invented” the day after a dinner party with the family. We ended up with around a kilo of already cooked blue mussels from the evening before. Because we didn’t want them to go to waste, we needed to get creative. Steamed in butter and white wine, with shallots and lovage, they had a rich buttery sauce which exactly served as the base for the mussel soup we decided to make, in order to reuse the mussels. The soup was so good, that from that moment we made it few more times but absolutely intentionally.
The recipe here includes all steps of the preparation, including cooking the mussels.
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
40g /3 tbsp butter
10-12 shallots, finely chopped
small brunch of fresh lovage
½ tsp white peppercorns
350ml /1½ cups dry white wine
1kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 carrot, finely chopped or grated
1l /4 cups fish or chicken stock
2-3 tbsp flour*
125ml /½ cup whipping cream
1 medium tomato, peeled seeded and finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
30ml /2 tbsp Pernod
*I usually use slightly baked flour for soup thickening and that permits me to add it right at the end of the cooking, mixed with some cold liquid. The flour also can be used row – in this case make roux – melt 2 tbsp of butter and stir in 2 tbsp of flour, cooking it for a minute, until smooth. This way the flour doesn’t taste raw, when added to the hot soup. Of course, if you prefer, you can substitute flour with cornstarch.
In a large heavy pan melt half of the butter over medium – high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes, until softened but not colored. Add the white peppercorns and white wine and bring to the boil. Add half of the lovage and the mussels cover tightly and cook over high heat for 4-5 minutes, until the mussels have opened. Instead of stirring them, shake the pan from time to time.
With a slotted spoon transfer the mussels to a bowl. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve it. Prepared this way, the mussels can be used in various pasta dishes or become stuffed mussels or just be eaten as they are (already really tasty!).
When the mussels have cooled enough to be handled, pull open and remove the meat. You can keep a small part of the mussels in their shells for more impressive final look of your soup. Discard any closed mussels. Add any extra juice to the reserved liquid.
In a heavy saucepan melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the carrot and the fennel, if using and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Stir in the reserved cooking liquid and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is slightly reduced.
Add the stock and bring to the boil, season with salt and white pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the flour, previously blended with 3 tbsp of water or stock. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the soup is slightly thickened and add cream, mussels and the rest of the lovage, shredded. Stir in also tomato and Pernod, if using and cook all for 2-3 minutes.
Serve hot with some crispy homemade bread.