Saturday, 13 February 2010

Lightly Curried Mussel Soup with Fresh Coriander

A quick, fragrant soup: plump mussels on the half shell simmered in a gently spiced, turmeric-yellow, winey liquor, enriched with a little coconut milk. I know wine and coconut milk are strange bedfellows, but they work well here.

Bowl by David Walters

Are you put off making this recipe because you can't buy  fresh mussels where you live? Please don't be: there is no need to use quivering live molluscs in this recipe.  Instead, buy a bag of good-quality frozen mussels-in-their-shells from your local supermarket or fishmonger, and use them with confidence. For this recipe, I use inexpensive frozen South African mussels, when I can find them.  If I can't,  I use imported New Zealand green-lipped mussels which are good, fat and flavoursome, and available in most big branches of Pick n' Pay. You can, of course, use fresh mussels, if you're lucky enough to have them to hand.

You do need a nice chicken or fish stock for this recipe. If you don't have any stock, or can't be bothered to make one from scratch, use some of the mussels you've bought to make a quickie stock: half an an hour before you make the soup, put 10 mussels (don't bother to thaw them) in a saucepan. Add half an onion, roughly sliced, a stalk of celery, a carrot snapped into thirds, a bay leaf, a few peppercorns and a sprig of parsley.  Cover with two cups of water and half a cup of white wine, bring to the boil and simmer  for 20 minutes. Strain into a clean jug, and discard the mussel shells, flesh and flavourings. Set aside.

You can use any mild curry powder in this soup, provided that you buy it spanking fresh. The chilli is entirely optional.

Lightly Curried Mussel Soup with Fresh Coriander

2 Tbsp (30 ml) vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and very finely chopped
6 curry leaves, fresh or dried
3 white cardamom pods, cracked
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped [optional]
2 tsp (10 ml) cumin
2 tsp (10 ml) medium-strength curry powder
1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric
3 Tbsp (45 ml) flour
½ cup (125 ml) white wine
1 cup (250 ml) chicken or fish stock (see note, above)
2 cups (500 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) low-fat coconut milk
1 kg frozen mussels in their shells, or fresh mussels
salt and milled black pepper
the juice of a lemon
a handful of chopped fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, curry leaves and cardamom. Cook over a brisk heat until the onions are golden brown. Drain off any excess oil. Stir in the garlic, chilli, cumin, curry powder and turmeric, and cook for a minute.

Now stir in the flour and cook for another minute. Add the wine and the stock, whisking well to prevent lumps forming.  Stir in the water and coconut milk and simmer gently for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.  Now tip all the frozen mussels into the soup, and bring gently up to the boil. Simmer for another minute or two, then turn off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir in the lemon juice and serve immediately, topped with fresh coriander.

Serves 4
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browniegirl said...

YUMMY!!! Your recipe sounds delicious and your photo is so colourful. Got your mail thankyou. Will reply as soon as I have spoken to Jeanne xx

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a great idea to make your own stock from some of the mussels. It would make all the difference in the world from an ordinary canned stock. We love mussels and serve them often. Yours are gorgeous with the curry.

Rose&Thorn said...

You have me drooling, those mussels look so good. I am starving for a plate of mussels the shops I go!

LaurenC said...

am i missing something because i cant see the mussels listed in the recipe?

Juno said...

No, you are not missing anything: I left them out. Thank you, and my apologies.

Marisa said...

Oooooooh that looks so good! I don't use nearly as much seafood as I should at home. But now I have no more excuses!

LaurenC said...

whew ok thanks, I kinda guessed that and bought a 1kg bag at Cape Town Fish Market last night. Can I make the soup tonight for tomorrow night??

Juno said...

Thank you all! Yes, Lauren, you can make it the day before, but don't add the mussels until just before you serve the soup. In other words, after you've added the coconut milk, simmer the soup for 15 minutes, cool it and put it in the fridge. Then reheat it tomorrow, and add the mussels,lemon juice, etc. Another thing: try to find low-fat coconut milk because the full-fat variety makes the soup a bit oily (although you can skim this off the top when the soup is cold). Enjoy it and please let me know how it tasted!

LaurenC said...

It was super lovely, I was so amazed I had cooked with mussels, first time and it was delish. Praise was heaped on. Thank you.

Jeanne @ Cooksister! said...

oooh, this looks so good! I made a similar recipe witha whopping 3kg bag of fresh mussels from Norfolk recently - only it was Thai style with coconut milk and green Thai curry paste. Love your ide aof a quick fish stock (because let's face it, how often do you have the fish heads and the inclination to make proper fish stock?!)

Sam Wilson said...

Ooh... I am definitely going to try this.

Torin said...

Where I live, it's very cheap to get live mussels here... how would I change the recipe to accomodate them?