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Orange & Saffron-Scented Mussel Soup
EatingWell Test Kitchen
“Orange juice, saffron and white wine combine in a heady broth for this mussel soup. It can be made in advance and gently reheated just before serving.”
6 plum tomatoes, cored
1½ tablespoons butter
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 carrots, finely chopped
2 onions, onions, finely chopped
1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc (3 cups)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups water
4 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded (see Tip)
1 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, cut in slivers
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled or ¼ teaspoon powdered saffron
Salt to taste
1Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer over high heat. Cut an "x" in the bottom of each tomato. Plunge the tomatoes into the simmering water. When the skins split, remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel, seed and dice the tomatoes. Set aside.
2Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until light golden, about 30 seconds. Add leeks, carrots and onions; sauté until very soft, about 15 minutes. Add wine, bay leaves, 1½ teaspoons thyme, pepper and water; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
3Stir in mussels, increase heat to medium-high and return to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for five minutes, shaking the pan several times to distribute the mussels. Transfer all the opened mussels with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Continue to cook any unopened mussels for two more minutes. Remove the remaining mussels, discarding any that do not open.
4When the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells, working over a bowl to collect their juices. Pull off and discard the dark rubbery rims; set the mussels aside. Strain the accumulated juices and the cooking liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve set over a bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract all the liquid. Return the liquid to the pot and add orange juice, parsley, orange zest, saffron and the remaining ½ teaspoon thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Add the reserved tomatoes and mussels and heat gently, not allowing the soup to boil.
To make ahead: Prepare through Step 4 up to 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate the broth, tomatoes and mussels in separate containers.
Tip: To clean & debeard mussels: Use a stiff brush to scrub mussels under running water. Discard any with broken shells or any whose shells remain open after you tap them lightly. Scrape off any barnacles; pull off the black fibrous “beard”.
Note: Literally the dried stigma from Crocus sativus, saffron is the world's most expensive spice. Over 75,000 flowers are required for each pound of saffron. Fortunately, a little goes a long way. It's used sparingly to add golden yellow color and flavor to a wide variety of Middle Eastern, African and European-inspired foods. Find it in the specialty-herb section of large supermarkets, gourmet-food shops and tienda.com. Wrapped in foil and placed in a container with a tight-fitting lid, it will keep in a cool, dry place for several years.