Spiced Mussel and Saffron Soup

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Yield: Servings: 4

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The spices in this dish are coaxed to release their full flavor by first blooming them in hot butter.  Chef Curtis Stone then “steals” the flavor from the mussels with this long-cooked method and adds velvety texture to the soup with the addition of cream.

Ingredients

5-1/2 lb. mussels

1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter

1 tsp. Madras curry powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Pinch saffron

3 cups thinly sliced Vidalia onion

1-1/2 cups thinly sliced leek, white and light green parts only

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

3 cups sweet white wine, such as Riesling

2 cups fish stock

1 cup heavy cream

Small edible flowers for garnish, optional

Instructions

Rinse the mussels well under cold water. Pick them over, pulling off any beards and discarding any mussels that are broken or gaping open.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the curry powder, cayenne, and saffron. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion, leek, celery, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the mussels, give them a good stir, cover and cook until the mussels open, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove 12 of the mussels and set aside, and discard any that did not open.

Continue to cook the remaining mussels in the pot, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Strain the soup through a colander, into a large bowl and discard the mussels and aromatics. Strain the soup again through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a clean pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the cream over medium-low heat, whisking until just heated through.

Divide the soup among the serving bowls.  Divide the reserved mussels among the bowls, leaving them in their shell, and garnish with a few flowers, if using.

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