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Denise Landis is the founder & CEO of The Cook's Cook.
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Wild mussels grow on rocks in inter-tidal zones, and consequently often need to be purged of sand before cooking, or their broth strained after cooking. Many an otherwise excellent mussel dish has been spoiled by a gritty crunch. Tricks for purging mussels of sand include soaking them with seawater, or corn meal, or oats.
Cultivated mussels are often grown on ropes, and these are the mussels that I prefer because they are usually sand-free. Rope-cultivated mussels are grown from mussel larvae that have settled on a rope’s surface. The process is fascinating and simple enough for anyone who lives by the ocean’s edge to try.
Many years ago I joined my husband on a business trip to the south of France. One highlight of the trip was our dinners in the large and gracious dining room of the inn. It was here that I discovered mussel soup in the French style and I ordered it every day.
The most beautiful soup that I know of, its fragrant creamy broth is orange-tinted with saffron threads and studded with the black shells of opened mussels. I was sure that I would never be able to replicate such a soup in my own kitchen, so I was astonished to have success with my first try, a recipe from The Seafood Cookbook by Pierre Franey and Bryan Miller (1986 Times Books). Easy to execute, the recipe can be prepared and cooked, start-to-finish, in under half an hour. For a complete meal, serve with a salad, cheese and fresh fruit, and crusty bread.
Cream of Mussel Soup
Cream of Mussel Soup
Print This Recipe
Adapted from The Seafood Cookbook, Pierre Franey and Bryan Miller (1986 Times Books)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup chopped shallots
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- ½ teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 quarts mussels, well-scrubbed with beards removed
- Tabasco sauce, to taste
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1½ cups dry white wine
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup light cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, onion, garlic, and saffron. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the mussels, Tabasco, parsley, and wine. Cover and cook until the mussels have opened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the creams to the cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. If necessary, keep warm over low heat.
Denise Landis had been employed as an archeologist for seven years before a food editor hired her to test some recipes from a cookbook manuscript. This short stint led to longer assignments, and two years later she began testing recipes for the New York Times. She has been a professional recipe tester and editor for over 25 years, is the author of a New York Times cookbook, and has written for numerous publications. She is a member of the New York Chapter of Les Dames d’ Escoffier.
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