Mussel Soup with White Beans
This Tuscan soup makes its own broth and is wonderful way to serve fresh mussels. The broth is flavored with garlic, tomato, Italian (flat-leaf) parsley), and olive oil. Olive oil plays an important role in the flavor of the dish; the chef suggests using a full-bodied Tuscan or Umbrian oil.
- White Beans - 1/2 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Italian bread - 4 slices
- Garlic - 1 clove, slightly crushed
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 4 teaspoons
- Unsalted Butter - 2 teaspoons
- Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
- Bay Leaves - 2
- Mussels - 48, washed
- Dry White Wine - 1-1/2 cups
- Red Pepper Flakes - Pinch crushed
- Tomato - 4, peeled, seeded, and diced
- Italian Parsley - 4 sprigs, chopped
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 3 teaspoons
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - To drizzle
- Italian parsley - 4 sprigs
Cover the beans with salted water, add the butter, and bring to a boil. Cook until soft. Drain, reserving the liquid.
Preheat the broiler to high. Cut the crusts off the bread and cut into 2-inch squares. Place on a baking sheet and roast lightly in the oven until golden, 30 – 40 seconds per side. Rub with the crushed garlic clove, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and set aside.
In a sauce pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat and saute the minced garlic and bay leaves until the garlic is softened; do not brown. Add the mussels, white wine, and red pepper flakes. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Use caution, as the wine contains alcohol which will burn; remove the pan a distance from the heat and open the lid away from you 2 to 3 times as it cooks to let the alcohol cook away. When the mussels are opened, remove from heat, again opening the lid away from you.
Remove the mussels from their shells, discarding any which did not open. Remove the beard from the mussels. Add 2 tablespoons of bean cooking liquid to the mussel broth to reduce the acidity. Stir in the beans, tomato, parsley, and 3 teaspoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve: Place a crouton in the bottom of each serving bowl. Stand two pairs of mussel shells in each bowl. Place a mussel inside each pair of shells. Divide the mussels and soup among the bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish each with a parsley sprig.