On a rainy day, you want an easy recipe that’s successful at every stage. Don’t fret if the mussels are sandy or gritty, as any dirt will handily drizzle down to the bottom of the pan. There are two options for soup here: to serve with mussels in the shell, or to make into a creamy soup.
Makes 800ml broth
knob of butter
2 stalks of celery
500ml dry cider
Bunch of fresh parsley
fresh bread, to serve
200ml double cream
Melt the butter in a saucepan while you trim and dice the leek, celery and lastly the carrot, adding to the pan as you go. Leave to sweat slowly.
Pick over the mussels, rip out any threads left from the rope and discard any broken shells. While the vegetables are softening, add the cider and the parsley stalks, reserving the leaf. Bring to a simmer. Now add the mussels, cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the mussels open. Take off the heat and cover with the chopped parsley leaves. Serve as is with fresh bread, or make into a creamy soup.
To make into a creamy soup, pick over the mussels when they are cool enough to handle and remove the meat from the shells and return to the soup. Discard the shells. Pour the broth into a new pan, leaving any sediment behind. Then add in the double cream and bring back to a simmer. Serve garnished with chopped parsley leaves.
Cook’s tip: For an extra swish, or upgrade if you have leftovers, slice four or five button mushrooms, sweat them in a good knob of butter until they start to wilt, then deglaze the pan with a cup of the soup and return everything to the bigger pan. Garnish with chopped coriander. Lightly braised mushrooms have an uncanny affinity with mussels both in texture and taste.
Extracted from Broth to Bowl: Mastering the Art of Great Soup from Six Simple Broths by Drew Smith (Modern Books, approx €23).