About this recipe:This soup tastes fabulous. The diced potatoes absorb the flavours from the herbs and vegetables to make a mellow complement to the mussels. Warm soda bread is an ideal partner, delicious for dunking and mopping up the last of the soup. To complete the meal, serve a light, fruity dessert for a refreshing, vitamin-packed finale.
1 kg (2¼ lb) mussels in shells, scrubbed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 leeks, thinly sliced
3 celery sticks, thinly sliced
2 carrots, diced
400 g (14 oz) potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
900 ml (1½ pints) vegetable stock, preferably home-made light
150 ml (5 fl oz) dry white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme
4 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp snipped fresh chives
salt and pepper
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Prepare the mussels: discard any broken shells or shells that do not close when tapped. Put the wet mussels into a clean saucepan and cover tightly. Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Check that the mussels have opened – if not, cover and cook for a further 1–2 minutes. Drain the mussels, reserving the juices that have come from the shells. Reserve a few mussels in their shells for garnish; remove the remainder from their shells and set aside. Discard the shells and any unopened mussels.
Heat the oil in the rinsed-out saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, leeks, celery and carrots, and cook gently for 5–10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Add the potatoes, stock, wine, reserved juices from the mussels, lemon juice, bay leaf, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and simmer the soup gently for 20–30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme, then add the shelled mussels, parsley and chives to the pan. Heat gently for about 1 minute. Do not allow the soup to boil or cook for any longer than this or the mussels will become tough and shrink.
Ladle the soup into warm bowls and garnish with the reserved mussels in shells. Serve at once, while piping hot.
Cooked fresh mussels are available in most supermarkets, usually vacuum packed and displayed in chiller cabinets. Use 300 g (10½ oz) shelled mussels. Alternatively, use 2 cans mussels in brine, each about 250 g, or 4 cans smoked mussels in vegetable oil, each about 85 g. Drain the canned mussels and pat dry before adding them to the soup.
Like other shellfish, mussels are a good low-fat source of protein. They are an extremely good source of vitamin B12 and provide useful amounts of copper, iodine, iron, phosphorus and zinc. * Vitamin C from the potatoes, parsley and chives aids the absorption of iron from the mussels. * Celery is said to have a calming effect on the nerves.
Each serving provides
Excellent source of vitamin A. Good source of folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C. Useful source of vitamin B1, vitamin B2, selenium.