Tuscan Style Mussel Soup
Mussels are often served by themselves but adding cooked mussels to a fragrant soup is a great way of making a sophisticated dish very easily. There is nothing difficult about cooking mussels and you just need to let them steam for a few minutes until they open.
Before you start cooking, it is important to discard any open ones that do not close when you tap the shell. Also, discard any closed ones after the rest have opened in the pot. They might be dead and dead ones decompose fast and can give you food poisoning. You might have a couple that do not open or you might not have any.
Use clams instead of mussels in this tasty soup recipe, or a combination of both if you prefer. You can leave the tomato paste out if you want. Half a cup of fresh parsley is an alternative to the crushed oregano. Either of these herbs would work, so it depends on what you prefer. If you are going to use fresh parsley, save some of it to sprinkle over the finished soup before serving it. Use Italian style country bread to make the crouton, if you have it. This crouton sits in the bottom of the bowl, rather than floating on top, so it soaks up plenty of flavor and adds body to the soup.
- 4 lbs mussels
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed oregano
- 4 thick slices bread
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
- 4 halved garlic cloves
- Salt and black pepper
- Clean the mussels, discarding any which are open or broken.
- Add an inch of water to a heavy pan and bring it to a boil.
- Drop the mussels into the pan and cover it. Let the mussels steam in there over a very high heat until they are open. Transfer them to a warm bowl, discarding any that did not open.
- Strain the mussel-cooking liquid through a cheesecloth to remove any sand.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over a moderate heat and brown the garlic. Stir in the oregano and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the wine, the mussel-cooking liquid, and some black pepper. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes, stirring it occasionally.
- Add the mussels and warm them through.
- Toast the bread and brush the garlic over it. Put a slice of toast in each serving bowl and ladle the soup over the top.
This fishy feast is made with mussels, white wine, garlic, and herbs. This might sound like a very simple soup recipe and it is. Most of the flavor comes from the mussels. You could use clams or even oysters if you prefer. This delicious soup makes a fine lunch or appetizer and if you enjoy fish and seafood you will love it. The garlic crouton is served at the bottom of the soup bowl, so you cannot see it, but your dinner guests will be delighted when they find it. Use a sprig of fresh rosemary, or another herb, to decorate the soup like in the photo if you want to.
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