Mussel, Leek, and Potato Soup

Mussel, Leek, and Potato Soup. Do you need an excuse for a nice glass of wine? One of my great pleasures is wine and seafood so I thought I should post a favourite wine and food pairing for you to try. Mussels in a creamy sauce pair extremely well with French dry whites like the classic Chablis, where the crisp green apple flavour and refreshing acidity cut through the creamy soup base or New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, the citrus and herbaceous notes are a really good match for the briny flavour of the mussels.

Mussel, Leek, and Potato Soup

What is the inspiration for my mussel soup?

One of the most classic yet simple French soups is called Soup Billi Bi. A delicious mix of white wine, cream, onions, and mussels. Soup Billi B was created at the famous French restaurant Maxim’s at the height of its popularity. It was the haunt of royalty and celebrities like Orson Wells, Bridgit Bardot and Ava Gardner. My recipe is a little more rustic and heartier with some finely sliced leeks and diced potatoes.

The recipe calls for fish fumet or stock, you can buy good quality stocks from quality supermarkets and delis. You will need to cook and steam the mussels first and remove from their shells once cool. Reserve the cooking juices which will add lots of flavour to your soup. You can cheat and use frozen mussel meat, but nothing beats fresh local mussels.

Wine and Beer Pairings

Chablis made from 100% Chardonnay grapes is famous for its crisp citrus aromas and flavours with mouth-watering acidity and lots of minerality. Chablis is a great palate cleanser and the acidity is a perfect foil to the creaminess of my recipe. Look out for both the Petit-Chablis and Chablis appellations on the labels, both produce zesty, refreshing wines with that touch of minerality. Premier (1er) Cru Chablis AOP offer more depth and a flintier profile. Grand Cru Chablis is much more varied and reflects the skills of the winemaker as much as the characteristics of the terroir. They can also have a slightly different flavour profile and a lot more depth from ageing in neutral oak barrels.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Crisp, fresh New World Sauvignon Blancs lift delicate creamy fish and seafood dishes and partner recipes with wine as an ingredient perfectly. The grapefruit, gooseberry and green apple flavours help balance any richness and partner the grassy, herbaceous notes without overpowering the dish. A perfect foil for mussel, leek and potato soup, this is one of my favourite food and wine pairings.

Beaujolais Villages wines are made from the Gamay grape just south of Burgundy, around the city of Lyon. They are known for their soft tannins, tart red berry flavours and relatively high acidity. They can also have a touch of minerality which when served lightly chilled partners the mussel soup perfectly. Beaujolais wines are fermented in a special way which highlights the fruit flavours and often results in the wine having the distinct flavour of bananas.

Hoegaarden Whit bier is a classic cloudy pale golden wheat beer from Belgium. Hints of orange, coriander and cloves with plenty of hops and citrus acidity make this a great accompaniment to spicy as well as cream-based mussel dishes.

Mussel, Leek and Potato Soup

In this recipe I use a bouquet garni, a bundle of herbs used to flavour soups and stocks. Made with celery, bay leaf, fresh parsley, and thyme. You can read more here. To find out how to clean and prepare mussels you can look at my full recipe post. To make the soup you will need a large heavy-bottomed pan and a very fine sieve.

For the Mussels

1.5 kg Mussels washed and scrubbed

100 gr Shallots peeled and finely chopped

100 ml Dry White Wine

For the Soup base

4 large Leeks washed and finely sliced

2 sticks Celery washed and very finely sliced

2 clove Garlic peeled and finely chopped

1 pint quality Fish stock

750 gr firm waxy Potatoes washed, peeled and diced

A good pinch of freshly ground white Pepper

Bouquet garni

50 gr unsalted Jersey Butter

50 gr Plain Flour

50 ml Dry White Wine

500 ml Jersey Double Cream

1 small bunch Curly Parsley washed, dried and finely chopped

Place the shallots, wine and mussels into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place on a tight fitting lid and steam for five minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Remove from pan and strain any cooking juices. Remove mussels from their shells.

Heat the butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and saute the leeks and celery for ten minutes. Add the flour and cook out for two to three minutes stirring regularly.

Stir in the fish stock and wine and then add the potatoes and bouquet garni. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for fifteen minutes.

Add the pepper and cream and cook until the potatoes are soft. Stir regularly to prevent sticking.

Add the mussels and heat gently for two or three more minutes. Ladle carefully into a bowl to serve and top with chopped parsley.

Published by Christian Gott - An Island Chef

I am a food and drink writer, chef, one-time publican and restaurant manager, and qualified ASET trainer with over thirty years of experience in hospitality. I now live and work in the Channel Islands with my beautiful family. I’ve worked on six islands and in probably just about every type of business you can imagine, from beachside burger joints to world-famous pizza restaurants and in more than a few really good food pubs, historic country inns, and a former RAC Blue Riband UK Hotel of the Year. I have helped to create a small informal dinning group, been a group executive chef for eighteen diverse bars and eateries, demonstrated at food festivals, and contributed to the Real Food Festival Cookery Book, national and local publications, and podcasts. I am a proud member of the Guild of Food Writers and the British Guild of Beer Writers.

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