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Mussel and saffron soup

You'll need

2 kg black mussels 30 gm unsalted butter 1 onion, finely chopped 1 celery stalk, finely chopped 1 leek, white part only, finely chopped 1¼ tsp curry powder ¾ tsp cayenne pepper Pinch of saffron threads 1 thyme sprig 1 fresh bay leaf 750 ml white wine 400 ml fish stock 500 ml heavy cream (45% milk fat) 8 oysters 1 potato, diced and cooked until soft To serve: paprika


  • 01
  • Rinse the mussels in cold water, remove beards, then wash again. Discard any that won’t close when tapped on a work surface.
  • 02
  • Melt butter in a large, heavy-based pan and gently sweat the vegetables until soft, without allowing them to colour. Add the curry powder, cayenne pepper, saffron and herbs and sweat them for a little longer, then add the mussels. Continue cooking gently, with the lid on, for another 2 minutes.
  • 03
  • Add the wine, and replace the lid to allow mussels to steam open. Once mussels have opened, remove pan from heat and pick mussels out of the pan, discarding any that have not opened. Return the pan to the heat and reduce the wine by half. Add the fish stock and reduce by half again.
  • 04
  • Strain stock through a muslin cloth or very fine sieve into a clean pan. Add cream and reduce a little further, until it has a coating consistency. Season with a little salt to taste.
  • 05
  • To serve, remove mussels from their shells (ensuring there are no beards), place some at the bottom of each soup bowl, along with one oyster and a few pieces of diced potato. Heat the soup to just below boiling point and pour it over the mussels and oyster. Dust with a pinch of paprika.

Note This recipe is from Marco Pierre White's Great British Feast (Orion, $55, hbk). In editing this recipe for publication we have made minor changes to bring it into Gourmet Traveller style.

This soup is relatively simple to make but tastes totally lavish. The oysters are optional - they make the soup that little bit more special but it's equally good without. Mussels are a particularly versatile seafood, and some of the best mussels in the country come from Jersey. I like them steamed with a little onion but, instead of using white wine, I like to use cider; try it once and you'll be hooked.

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Featured in

Sep 2008

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