Tag: saffron mussels

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

It’s getting colder here in Berlin, all of the trees in front of our windows are finally naked, their last colourful leaves swept away in a single stormy night. Before the winds came, the light in our living room was golden and warm, filtered through autumn’s pretty yellow linden leaves. Now that they’re gone, the light is much harder. All of a sudden, the city seems a bit more harsh, which made me long for a cozy soup.

Seafood has been on my mind for weeks, sweet mussels from the North Sea, adding their fine taste to a thick, fruity tomato soup refined with aromatic saffron. It warms the body and caresses the soul, what else could you want on a cold and misty November day? This dish may seem elaborate but that’s not at all the case, it’s a quick one. The fruit’s red juices only cook for a bit longer than 10 minutes and the mussels sink into a fragrant broth of white wine and spices for just 5 minutes. I use the wine, infused with a soft hint of the sea and the noble taste of saffron, to stir into my glowing soup. It’s supposed to serve 3-4, which I still believe is quite realistic, but we loved it so much that we almost emptied the large pot of soup in one go at lunchtime. We were hungry.

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

 

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

Saffron and Mussel Tomato Soup

Serves 3-4

For the mussels

mussels in shells  1 kg / 2 1/4 pounds
olive oil
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
garlic, thinly sliced, 2 large cloves
white wine 200ml / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
bay leaves 2
saffron threads 1/8 teaspoon / 1g
sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
ground pepper

For the tomato soup

olive oil
tomatoes, finely chopped, 1 kg / 2 1/4 pounds
garlic, thinly sliced, 1 big clove
broth, used to cook the mussels, 400ml / 1 2/3 cups
a pinch of sugar
sea salt
ground pepper

For the topping

fresh parsley, roughly chopped, 4 heaped teaspoons

Rinse and scrub the mussels under cold water and cut off the beard, discard any broken mussels.

For the mussels, heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot and cook the onion and garlic on medium heat for a few minutes or until golden and soft. Add the wine, bay leaves, saffron, salt and pepper, stir and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low, gently add the mussels to the pot, shake the pot or stir with a slotted ladle and close with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes or until the shells open, shake the pot once or twice while cooking. Take the mussels out with a slotted ladle, discard any mussels that don’t open. Measure 400ml of the mussel broth, together with the onions and the bay leaves, and set aside. Peel the mussels out of their shells, leave about 6-8 inside the shells for the topping of the soup (optional). Set the mussels aside.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot, add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for 4 minutes on medium-high heat (open), stir once in a while. Add the mussel broth with the onions and bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper and cook for about 7 minutes (open) or until the tomatoes are soft and the soup is thick. Season to taste and, if necessary, chop the tomatoes with a knife if they are too chunky, or purée the soup in a food processor. Stir in the mussel meat, divide the soup between bowls, sprinkle with fresh parsley and pepper and garnish with the mussels in their shells.

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

 

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

 

saffronmusseltomatosoup6

 

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

Saffron Bouchot Mussels with Tomatoes, Garlic and Parsley

Saffron Mussels

When I have mussels on my cooker I like to add spices, herbs and chopped vegetables, lots of flavours to enrich the broth they’re cooking in. I love to dip a piece of fresh baguette into the concentrated juice of wine cooked with mussels, garlic and parsley as much as I like the tender flesh.

The last time I wrote about a recipe with mussels, it was an aromatic bomb inspired by my friend Essa’s kitchen. The list of spices was long with turmeric, coriander, fresh and  seeds, cayenne pepper, ginger and lemongrass. Not too long after I shared this recipe, Marilena from the Molise region in Italy got in touch with me as she holds a completely different position when it comes to cooking mussels and seafood in general. Pure without too many distractions, that’s how it should be cooked in her opinion. I understand her point, and agree partly. I prefer prawn and lobster dishes that focus mainly on the seafood. When it comes to grilled steak fish, I feel the same. That’s also one of the reasons why my fish recipes in Malta were quite minimal. Although mussels have a very fine taste of the sea, almost sweet, I find they work very well in combination with exotic aromas. We all have our cooking preferences, our likes and dislikes which makes the product of each kitchen so unique! When it comes to baking, Marilena and I found common ground again. She asked me to bake her Milk Pan di Campobasso, a traditional dolci of the region where she lives. This cake is packed with saffron and Strega (an old Italian saffron liqueur) infused milk and covered with hazelnut icing. I had never heard of this combination before but since then I’m in love with saffron combined with nuts!

Today’s recipe for my mussels also works with the strong aroma of this precious, red spice. I felt like a strong broth with a dominant note of saffron mixed with tomatoes, bay leaf, parsley, onions and garlic. The dish looked and tasted like autumn! Warm flavours and colours, red, yellow and green on the shimmering Moules de Bouchot from the Mont-Saint-Michel bay between Brittany and Normandy. The mussels grow on ropes in the sea and that’s the taste they bring to the plate, the fresh sea!

Saffron Mussels

 

Saffron Mussels

 Saffron Bouchot Mussels with Tomatoes, Garlic and Parsley

For a lunch for 3-4 people served with baguette you need

mussels in shells (preferably Bouchot mussels) 1 kg / 2 pounds
medium sized tomatoes, finely chopped, 3
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
garlic, thinly sliced, 3 cloves
white wine 200ml / 7 ounces
bay leaf 1
saffron a pinch
salt 1/2 teaspoon
pepper
olive oil
fresh parsley, roughly chopped, 4 tablespoons plus a few leaves

Rinse and scrub the mussels under cold water and cut off the beard, discard any broken mussels.

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the onion and garlic on a medium heat for a few minutes until soft and golden. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, wine, saffron, salt, pepper and the mussels. Shake the pot gently to mix or stir with a slotted ladle. Bring to the boil, close with a lid and cook on lowest heat for 5 minutes or until the shells open (shake the pot once or twice while cooking). Discard any mussels that didn’t open! Sprinkle the mussels with parsley and serve immediately, in deep plates with a bit of broth and baguette.

Saffron Mussels

 

Saffron Mussels