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Soupe de Moules Chez Benoit

"I live on good soup, not fine words."
~ Moliere

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  Andre Renoux - Au Cafe St.Honore
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Andre Renoux
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The Provence Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Select Guide to the Markets, Shops, and Restaurants of France
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Cookbook: 150 Recipes
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Soupe de Moules Chez Benoit
(Benoit’s Mussel Soup)

Bistro Cooking
Bistro Cooking

By Patricia Wells, 1989, Workman Publishing

“Every now and then I have an honest craving for mussels – I love the process of scrubbing them, then the aroma that wafts from the kitchen as the mussels begin
to cook, opening their shells like giant, silvery-black blossoms. When a craving
for soup comes at the same time, this is the dish that comes to mind.
Bistros never seem to offer enough soups, and this recipe, from Paris’s beautiful bistro Benoit, is a soothing fall or wintertime dish. It’s a very pretty, delicate,
clearly elegant soup: I love the hint of smokiness that comes from the bacon,
the bright green highlights of the beans, the soft texture offered by the leeks.
Although the chefs of Benoit prepare this soup with fish stock, I substitute a
light, homemade chicken stock when I don’t have fish stock on hand.”

2 pounds (1 kg) fresh mussels
1/2 cup (12.5 cl) dry white wine, such as Muscadet
1/2 cup (12.5 cl) crème fraîche or heavy cream
2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 30 g) unsalted butter
1 large onion, minced
2 small carrots, peeled and minced
2 leeks (white part only), rinsed well and minced
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) slab bacon,
rind removed and minced
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) side pork (fatback),
rind removed and minced
2 cups (50 cl) fish stock or light unsalted
chicken stock
, preferably homemade
3 ounces (90g) green beans, trimmed and cut
on an angle into 1/2-inch (1.25cm) lengths|
Freshly ground black pepper

1.Thoroughly scrub the mussels and rinse with several changes of cold
water. Beard the mussels. (Do not beard the mussels in advance, or
they will die and spoil.)
2. Place the mussels, white wine, and crème fraîche in a large non-
reactive skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook, shaking the
pot, just until the mussels open, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook,
or the mussels will become tough. Remove from the heat and drain
the mussels, reserving the mussels and the cooking liquid separately.
Discard any mussels that do not open. Strain the cooking liquid
through several thicknesses of dampened cheesecloth; reserve.
3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion,
carrots, leeks, bacon, and side pork. Stir until coated with the butter,
and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to turn translu-
cent, about 5 minutes. Add the fish stock and cook until the vegetables
are very soft and flavors have had time to mingle, about 45 minutes.
4. Stir in the mussel cooking liquid, and cook until heated through,
about 5 more minutes.
5. Blanch the green beans in a large pot of salted, boiling water, just
until the beans are crisp-tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. Immediately drain the beans and rinse under cold running water
until the beans are cooled throughout. This will help them retain
their crispness and bright green color. Drain thoroughly and
set aside.
6.  Remove the mussel meats from the shells; discard the shells.
7. About 5 minutes before serving the soup, add the mussels, and cook
just until they are heated through. Evenly divide the soup among 4
shallow soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with equal amounts of the
green beans, shower with a touch of pepper. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings

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Soups from "Patricia Wells
at Home in Provence"

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Monkfish Soup with Garlic Cream
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Scallop Bisque
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Index - Soup Recipe Archives
Basic Stock Recipes

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