Puget Sound Mussel Chowder

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Serves 4 to 6 | start to finish: about 1 hour, 15 minutes

Who can resist a bowl of chowder on a cold winter day? This is a simple, traditional, cream-based chowder with local Puget Sound mussels for a Pacific Northwest twist. And one-pot cooking makes for super-easy clean-up.

Serve as a quick starter course for a special winter meal with friends or as a hearty family supper with a simple side salad and crusty bread.

2 cups water
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 pounds Mediterranean Mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups fish stock
2 cups heavy cream
sea salt to taste
fresh, ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil, to garnish

Place water, wine, thyme, and bay leaf in a 4-quart pot and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels and steam, covered, over medium-high heat until the shells open, about 8 minutes. As soon as the shells begin to open, remove the pot from the heat. Be careful not to overcook the mussels. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a bowl. Strain the liquid into another bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. Discard any mussels that do not open.

Rinse out the pot and return it to the stove. Add the butter and bacon and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until just rendered. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Season lightly with sea salt and black pepper. Cook the vegetables, stirring frequently, until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes, the strained cooking liquid from the mussels, and the fish stock. Bring to a boil and simmer partially covered until the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the heavy cream and simmer for 1 minute. Add the reserved mussels, bring back to a gentle simmer, and reheat for 2 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the chowder into bowls. Garnish with the fresh parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


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