The combination of mussels and potatoes is a classic one. For instance in Belgium as moules et frites (mussels with fries). In the Bistrot in Maddalena, Sardegna, Italy, we enjoyed a potato velouté with mussels. My version was inspired by that dish. I’ve used the liquor from the mussels to flavor the potatoes, to get all of the flavor out of the mussels. This is a simple dish, but elegant enough to serve at a dinner party.
Serves 4 as a small primo piatto or 2 as a main course
- 500 grams (1.1 lbs) peeled and diced potatoes
- 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) mussels
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 litre (2 cups) homemade vegetable stock, made with 1 onion, 1 stick celery, 1 carrot, 1 leek
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
Start by making homemade vegetable stock by simmering chopped onion, celery, carrot, and leeks in 1/2 litre of water for 30-60 minutes.
Sieve the vegetable stock and discard the solids. Making your own vegetable stock is important, because stock from a cub contains mostly salt.
Clean the mussels, discarding any that are not closed, and put them in a pot with 120 ml white wine.
Cover and bring to a boil. Boil the mussels until they have opened. Do not cook the mussels longer than necessary, as that will toughen them.
Pour the mussels into a colander and catch the mussel liquor in a bowl. Filter the mussel liquor through kitchen paper or a cheese cloth, and take most of the mussels out of their shells. Keep a few mussels in their shells for garnish.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan. Add a chopped onion and 4 fresh bay leaves.
Stir over medium heat until the onions have softened, about 10 minutes.
Add 500 grams of diced potato.
Add the vegetable stock to the potatoes.
Add about half of the mussel liquor to the potatoes.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so that it will keep boiling gently, and boil, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
When the potatoes are tender, turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves…
…and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. (Using a blender with just potatoes is a bad idea because the potatoes will be turned into glue. But with enough liquid like here, it will be fine.)
Taste and add more of the mussel liquor if more salt is needed. If you want to make it thinner without adding salt, add water.
Add the mussels.
Stir over low heat to incorporate the mussels and heat them through. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serve the velouté on preheated plates, garnished with mussels in their shells and parsley, and drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil.