15.4.08

Memento mussel soup


The joys of spring, as seen last week:

Buying asparagus from a farmstand covered in blue tarpaulin, by the side of a field. Is there anything a city slicker loves more than some residue of mud on their vegetables?

Podding peas and eating the tiny ones straight away. Sweet.

Marinading strawberries in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, a la Nigella. The only way to make silly huge fresones edible, really.

Splashing home under an umbrella, and stepping in puddles.Lovely lovely.
If you live in a desert and there´s a drought, you won´t complain about rain, but it might pose a bit of a catering problem. You can´t give dinner guests a trim dinner of steamed asparagus with poached eggs and strawberry cake; they´ll freeze. But you can´t really trot out lentils and apple pie.

The answer? Memento mussel soup. Memento being a restaurant where they serve a beautiful starter of mussels with chistorra (a light cooking chorizo from Navarra). It always has us clamouring for more bread to dip in the rust-red strong sauce, and seemed like a perfect springboard for a good soup.
My version is soupier (duh) and lighter, and has gone straight away into the folder of "things I´ll be making again and again".
It´s good, and it´s easy, and it´s quick, provided you buy cleaned mussels or enlist help.
I served it with a home made focaccia, which was pretty amazing, but any crusty bread for making boats will be great. Provide plenty of napkins and maybe finger bowls.

Memento mussel soup

2kgs mussels, cleaned and debearded
100 gr. or so of chistorra, or any other cooking chorizo
a bunch of spring onions, or three shallots
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 smallish tomatoes, grated (or a 1/2 kg. tin, which will give you more liquid, and lucky you)
salt, pepper, dried oregano to taste
1 tablespoonful flour
300 ml or so of liquid (white wine, beer or both)
olive oil
Creme fraiche, or any thick cream

Begin by sauteeing the chistorra in olive oil in a big pan that will hold all the mussels later, until it´s released its fat and it´s beginning to crisp up. Add the spring onions. After a couple of minutes, add the tomatoes and garlic. None of this has to cook down a lot, but give it a couple of minutes, too. Now add the flour and stir til it dissappears, and stir it around for a bit more so it won´t taste raw.
Pour in the liquid and stir until it´s thickened and the alcohol has evaporated. Throw in the mussels, cover, and, taking the pan in your mittened hands that are also clamping down the lid, give it a good shake.
Do this again a couple of times (males of the species are good for this job. recruit one). Check after three minutes. If there are a lot of unopened shells, leave it another minute.

Now serve in big deep bowls, as many mussels as you can, plenty of the soup and a blob of sour cream (with chopped parsley or chives if you have them, for prettiness). Put a big salad bowl for the shells on the table, alongside some hot sauce. As people eat, their bowls will be ready for more, so top them up.

Serves 4 as dinner, with fresh bread, or 8 more timid souls as a starter.

11 comentarios:

Julie dijo...

That sounds wonderful and different from the usual mussel recipe. I think mussels are a great choice for a dinner with guests. There's something very convivial about eating mussels and tossing the shells in a communal shell bowl.

Kim dijo...

I adore mussels, thanks for the recipe. Your drawings are delightful, are they all your own? What is your medium? Enjoyed!

xps dijo...

Que bueno. mándale el link de hoy a edu. lo merece.

Pille dijo...

Ximena - you are an angel!!! K. loved the soup/stew at Memento! Although I skipped all those mussels in this particular soup, the chistorra-tomato-rosemary-cream sauce was amazing :)
(PS write-up on eb will come, still digesting the information, you see:)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) dijo...

Lovely recipe. The Portuguese restaurants in our area do wonderful things by combining chorizo and shellfish, too.

neil dijo...

There's chorizo and cooking chorizo? I thought they were all pretty much the same, what's the difference?

michelle @ TNS dijo...

i don't like to eat the actual mussels, but i *love* dipping bread into the mussel sauce. this sounds like an excellent candidate for tasty bread-dipping.

lobstersquad dijo...

Julie: anything you eat with your hands is so friendly, I agree.
Kim: yes, the drawings are my own. This one I´ve done straight away on Photoshop, but others have ink lines, or watercolour. Depends.
Xps: sí que sí. a ver cuando lo probamos.
Pille: I did without the dried rosemary in this one. too strong for me. but htanks for the reminder
Lydia: surf n turf seems to be all Catalan or Portuguese over here. but we´re learning!
Neil: o yes. I don´t know the technical difference, but cooking chorizo isn´t so cured, I think. And it tastes gross if you eat it raw. You HAVE to cook it. The other kind is firmer, and slices into perfect round slices, rather than raggedy bits.
Michelle: that´s the good thing about this dish, even mussel haters dip into it, and there´s plenty for everyone.

lindy dijo...

This sounds wonderful. I love mussels, and now that it is spring, i am going to take a lunchtime walk to Wholey's- our great fish market in the Strip district, and get me some mussels to bring home from work. I can leave them in the fridge at work until it's time to go home.

ChichaJo dijo...

I am a big fan of mixing seafood with meat...especially the shellfish/sausage combination! This is going stright to my to-make folder!

Fearless Kitchen dijo...

This looks fantastic. I can't wait to try it. I like the option of using beer - my husband thought I'd gone insane the first time I used beer in a soup.

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