Cream of Mussel Soup with Celeriac and Saffron
I always like to add a few mussels in the shell along with the rest of the mussel meats to improve the finished look. It’s important to get the texture of the soup right before adding them, which is why I pass it first through a normal sieve then through an even finer sieve, called a chinois. And finally, I can’t stress strongly enough to reheat the mussels with extreme caution. The longer they cook, the more they lose their flavour of the sea.
|750g (1lb 10oz)||small mussels, cleaned|
|4 tbsp||dry white wine|
|225g (8oz)||peeled celeriac, chopped|
|125g (4½oz)||leek, sliced|
|1||small garlic clove, chopped|
|About 750ml (1¼ pints)||good quality fish stock|
|1||good pinch of saffron strands|
|175g (6oz)||vine ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped|
|4 tbsp||crème fraîche|
You will need a chinois (fine-mesh sieve).
Put the mussels and 2 tablespoons of the wine into a medium-sized pan. Place over a high heat and cook for 2–3 minutes or until the mussels have just opened. Tip them into a colander set over a bowl to collect the cooking juices, and discard any mussels that have not opened. Leave to cool slightly then remove the meats from three-quarters of the shells, cover and set aside.
Melt the butter in a clean pan, add the celeriac, leek, garlic and remaining wine. Cover and cook gently for 5 minutes.
Put all but the last tablespoon or two of the mussel liquor (which might be a bit gritty) into a large measuring jug and make up to 900ml (1½ pints) with the fish stock. Add to the pan of vegetables along with the saffron and tomatoes, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Leave the soup to cool slightly, then blend until smooth. First pass through a sieve, then pass once more through a chinois into a clean pan, bring back to the boil. Stir in the crème fraîche and some seasoning to taste.Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mussels to warm them through briefly, but don’t allow them to cook any more than they already have. Ladle the soup into warmed soup plates, trying to distribute the mussels evenly, and serve immediately.