Mussel soup

A warming soup for a cold day, this easy blend of mussels, fennel and cream is served with toasted garlicky bread.


  • 1 kg/2lb 3oz fresh mussels
  • 200ml/7fl oz white wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
  • pinch saffron
  • 50ml/2fl oz aniseed liqueur
  • 300ml/10½fl oz fish stock
  • 100ml/3½fl oz double cream
  • 2 tsp coriander cress (or finely chopped coriander)
  • 1 loaf white bread, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, halved

Preparation method

  1. Clean the mussels by thoroughly scrubbing them under plenty of running water, pulling away and discarding the ‘beards’, the seaweed-like stringy threads. Discard any broken mussels, and any mussels that don’t close tightly when you tap them.

  2. Place the mussels in a saucepan, add the white wine and cook for 3-4 minutes.

  3. Drain, reserving the cooking liquor, and pick the mussels from their shells. Set aside the liquor and the mussels, but discard the shells.

  4. Heat a large frying pan and add the oil. Add the finely chopped shallot, garlic and fennel and cook for 3-4 minutes.

  5. Add the saffron, aniseed liqueur, stock, three-quarters of the mussel meat, finish with the cream

  6. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes until warmed through, then blend with a stick blender until smooth.

  7. Heat a large griddle pan and drizzle the sliced bread with oil and rub with the halved clove of garlic. Toast the bread on the griddle for 2-3 minutes.

Required techniques

James Martin recipes from Saturday Kitchen Best Bites

Less than 30 mins preparation time

10 to 30 mins cooking time

Serves 4

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