Chef's Recipes

Mussel broth scented with basil and saffron

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for mussel broth scented with basil and saffron by Donovan Cooke from The Atlantic, Melbourne.

By Donovan Cooke
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 35 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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Mussel broth scented with basil and saffron


  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 50 gm each carrot, celery, onion and golden shallot, finely diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, bases scored
  • ¾ tsp saffron threads
  • 1 cup (firmly packed) basil, stalks reserved
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 500 ml (2 cups) fish stock
  • 1 kg black mussels, beards removed
  • 200 ml pouring cream


  • 1
    Heat a frying pan over high heat, add olive oil, vegetables and garlic, and cook covered with a tight-fitting lid until just tender (5-7 minutes).
  • 2
    Meanwhile, blanch tomatoes until skins split (20 seconds), drain and refresh in iced water. Drain, then remove and reserve skins and seeds, dice flesh and set aside.
  • 3
    Add saffron, basil stalks, bay leaf, thyme, tomato skins and seeds to vegetables, season to taste, and cook covered until vegetables are tender (5-10 minutes). Remove lid, add wine and reduce by half (5-10 minutes). Add stock and bring to a rapid boil. Add mussels, cover and cook until mussels begin to open (3-5 minutes), then remove from stock. Discard basil stalks, bay leaf and thyme, add cream, bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.
  • 4
    Remove mussels from shells and transfer half to a blender, add broth and process until smooth, then strain through a fine sieve, season to taste and bring to a simmer.
  • 5
    Divide remaining mussels among serving bowls with diced tomato and basil leaves, then pour hot mussel broth over and serve.


Drink Suggestion: Equipo Navazos La Bota de Fino Sherry, Jerez. Drink suggestion by Garrett Donovan