Mussels are a real bargain and make a superb soup that looks impressive for entertaining. Reserve the prettiest shells to float on top of the soup as a garnish.
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250ml dry white wine
2 celery sticks with leaves,
stalks thinly sliced
1kg mussels, scrubbed, beards removed and washed thoroughly
200g leeks, trimmed and
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp tomato purée
600ml fish stock
100ml crème fraîche
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper
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Method Prep:30min › Cook:30min › Ready in:1hr
Pour the white wine into a large saucepan. Add the celery leaves and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook for 4–5 minutes, shaking the pan regularly, until the mussels open.
Once the mussels have opened, drain them, reserving their cooking liquid. Shuck the mussels, setting aside the meat and reserving a few attractive shells. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a large jug.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the celery, leeks, onion and carrot, reserving a few thin slices of leek and some grated carrot for garnishing. Stir, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the curry powder and stir. Pour over the mussels' cooking liquid. Add the tomato purée and fish stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly, then tip the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add the crème fraîche and blend once more. Season to taste.
Reheat the soup, add the mussels and heat through gently in the soup for 1 minute, taking care not to boil.
Serve sprinkled with a little cayenne pepper and garnish with reserved leeks and carrots and a few of the mussels returned to their shells.
Once the mussels have been cooked, discard any that remain closed – a sign that they were dead before cooking, and might well be toxic.