Spiced Mussel Soup


Chunky and colorful, this fish soup has the consistency of chowder. the chili flavor comes from harissa, a spicy sauce that is popular in North African cooking.


1.6kg/3 1/2lb live mussels
150ml/1/4 pint/ 2/3 cup white wine
3 tomatoes
30ml/2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
bunch of spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1 potato, diced
7.5ml 1/2 tsp harissa
45ml/3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
ground black pepper
thick yogurt, to serve (optional)

1. Scrub the mussels and remove the beards, discarding any mussels that are damaged or that fail to close when tapped with a knife.

2. Bring the wine to the boil in a large pan. Add the mussels and cover tightly with a lid. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the mussels have opened. Drain the mussels, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard any mussels that remain closed. Reserve a few mussels in their shells for the garnish. Shell the rest.

3. Cut a small cross in the base of each tomato. Put them in a heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds, then lift out and plunge into cold water. Drain, peel off the skins and dice the flesh. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic, celery and spring onions for 5 minutes.

4. Add the shelled mussels, reserved liquid, potato, harissa, and tomatoes. Bring just to the boil, reduce the heat and cover. Simmer gently for about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are beginning to break up.

5. Stir in the parsley and pepper, and add the reserved mussels, in their shells. Heat through for 1 minute. Serve with a spoonful of yogurt if you like.

Harissa can be bought in tubes or jars. Stir it into salads or cooked vegetable dishes to give them a spicy lift.

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