Scandi-style mussel chowder
( SERVES 4 )
Photo by Tam West
They make great fish soups in Scandinavia that include things like parsnips which I particularly like. If you aren’t going to use your live mussels for a few hours, don’t put them in the fridge. It is generally too cold and will kill them. Instead rinse the mussels well in cold water, drain well and store in a bowl in a cool place with a double layer of wet cloth over them, which you can refresh.
- To make the croutons, heat the oven to 200C. Put the bread and oil into a wide roasting dish. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, mix well and place in the oven for 10 minutesor until the bread is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and cool. These can be stored for a few days in an airtight container.
- To make the soup, put the mussels in a large saucepan and add 50ml of the wine. Cover and place over high heat so that the wine boils and the mussels steam open. Remove from the pan as they open and let them cool. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid.
- Take the mussels out of the shell, pull the brown tongue and its white root out of each mussel (these make the mussel tough to eat). Slice the mussels 1cm thick, reserve.
- Heat the oil over moderate heat in a wide saucepan and add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel seeds, garlic and bayleaf. Fry gently without browning for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft.
- Add the remaining white wine and let it bubble for 30 seconds. Add the mussel cooking liquid, the potatoes, parsnips and stock. Mix well. Simmer 20 minutes or until the potatoes and parsnips are soft.
- Puree a third of the soup in a food processor or with a wand blender and return it to the unpureed soup.
- Add the reserved mussels. Stir in the cream and parsley, bring to the boil, taste and season.
- Serve sprinkled with the croutons and extra chopped parsley.