MUSSEL SOUP DUBLIN
This soup, like most Ozark natives, is of Scots-Irish origin. It's excellent on a chilly night. The cider adds a pleasant,
subtle note that tastes right from the first soothing, swooningly good bite, especially with the mellowing touch of whiskey.
Remember Molly Malone who lived "in Dublin's fair city, where girls are so pretty, crying 'Cockles and Mussels, alive, alive-o'"?
The mussels must be alive, alive-o, to make this or any other mussel soup. (Cockles, by the way, are members of the clam clan.)
Serves 6 as an Entrée or 8 as a Starter
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3 pounds live mussels in the shell, cleaned and bearded if necessary
4 cups unsweetened cider, flat or sparkling (such as Martinelli), or dry hard cider if you can get one that is high quality
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, scrubbed or peeled and chopped
1 rib celery with leaves, chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced (optional)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups milk, heated
Grating of fresh nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream (Note follows)
||In a large pot, combine the mussels, 2 cups of the cider, the whiskey and parsley. Simmer gently,
covered, until the mussels open, 6 to 8 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Remove the
mussels to a colander, reserving the cooking liquid. Strain it through cheesecloth or a very fine strainer as
it may be sandy. Remove the mussels from their shells when they are cool enough to handle.|
||In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the carrot, celery and bell pepper and sauté until softened, 2 minutes more. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables
and stir it in, cooking for a minute or so. Gradually whisk in the hot milk and season with the nutmeg, and salt and pepper.
Simmer, stirring frequently, over very low heat about 10 minutes, then stir in the remaining 2 cups cider and the mussel
cooking liquid. Heat through gently. At this point you may strain the soup or leave it chunky (I prefer the latter).|
||Add the mussels and cream to the soup. Heat through slowly and serve very hot.|
|Note: You may substitute milk thickened with cornstarch or evaporated skim milk
for the cream or simply omit it. As always, the cream does make the soup more delicious, but it's also good without.