Mussels in White Wine


serves 4
about 3 litres (5 1/4 pints) 12 cups fresh mussels
60 g (2 oz) 1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped very finely
2 - 3 garlic cloves, crushed
350 ml (12 fl oz) 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
150 ml (1/4 pint) 2/3 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
good pinch of finely grated lemon rind
1 bouquet garni sachet
1 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
4 tbsp single (light) or double (thick) cream
2 - 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
warm crusty bread, to serve


1. Scrub the mussels in several changes of cold water to remove all mud, sand, barnacles, etc. Pull off all the 'beards'. All of the mussels must be tightly closed; if they don't close when given a sharp tap, they must be discarded.

2. Melt half the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, and fry gently until soft but not coloured.

3. Add the wine, water, lemon juice and rind, bouquet garni and plenty of seasoning. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

4. Add the mussels to the pan, cover tightly and simmer for 5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently, until all the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels which have not opened. Remove the bouquet garni.

5. Remove the empty half shell from each mussel. Blend the remaining butter with the flour and whisk into the soup, a little at a time. Simmer gently for 2 - 3 minutes until slightly thickened.

6. Add the cream and half the parsley to the soup and reheat gently. Adjust the seasoning. Ladle the mussels and soup into warmed large soup bowls, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve with plenty of warm crusty bread.

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