Saffron Mussel Soup


1-12 oz unsalted butter
8 shallots, finely chopped
1 bouquet garni
1 tsp, black peppercorns
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
2-1/4 lb mussels, scrubbed and debearded
2 medium leeks, trimmed and finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
several saffron strands
4 cups fish or chicken stock
1/2 cup whipping cream
2-3 tbsp cornflour, blended with 3 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp Pernod (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large heavy pan, melt half the butter over a medium-high heat. Add half the shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened but not coloured.
  2. Add the bouquet garni, peppercorns and white wine and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the mussels, cover tightly and cook over a high heat for 3-5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mussels have opened.
  4. With a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a bowl. Strain the cooking liquid through a muslin-lined sieve and reserve.
  5. When the mussel shells are cool enough to handle, pull open and remove most of the mussels, adding any extra juices to the reserved liquid. Discard any closed mussels.
  6. Rinse the saucepan and melt the remaining butter over a medium heat. Add the remaining shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the leeks, fennel, carrot and saffron and cook for 3-5 minutes until softened.
  8. Stir in the reserved cooking liquid, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is slightly reduced.
  9. Add the stock and bring to the boil, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Season with salt, if needed, and black pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  10. Stir the blended cornflour into the soup. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the soup is slightly thickened, then add the cream, mussels and chopped tomato.
  11. Stir in Pernod, if using, and cook for 1-2 minutes until hot, then serve at once.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Taste of France