We held a dinner last weekend. Blåskjellaften as we so nicely call it (“Mussel evening”). Twelve of us sitting happily squashed up around the dinner table. Waiting for one of the finest meals. Mussel soup. As we waited, we were given one white egg to decorate. This certainly made the time go by and we forgot all about our growling, hungry stomaches. Sipping on dry white wine and nibbling on a fresh, still hot-from-the-oven foccacia. I looked outside. It was raining and the wind grabbed the trees in a rough, almost angry mannor. I took a quick gaze at our guests and quickly realized they had no idea. They were ignorant towards everything else happening but in this room, around this dinner table. Good conversation and good friends. We couldn’t complain. We cheered in the night to come.
For us, this is a yearly get together of good friends, drinks and food. It is an opportunity to get in touch with our roots and our nature. Harvesting our own food is one of the most fulfilling things. We sat squashed up in the car on our way out of Oslo to find the perfect spot for mussel picking. The Oslo fjord on the one side and the gloomy Norwegian forest on the other. It does something to you. It made us eager to catch good food.
The water was cold. Almost giving a burning sensation to the touch. It is only now, during this time of year we can really enjoy mussels straight from the fjord. The ice cold water make sure the mussels are safe to eat. There were five of us picking mussels with our bare hands. Struggeling alot in the beginning. Barely being able to hold our hands under water for more than half a second. After a few hours we finally found a spot. Bunches and bunches of mussels on the dock in Drøbak, ready to be tossed into our many buckets. We drove back home with a couple of buckets and a big smile on our face.
My mussel soup is inspired from one of the two we had that weekend. A creamy, cozy mussel soup with chili, fennel and root paresely gives it a sweet, liquorice flavor and being a classic combination with mussels.
Creamy Mussel Soup
3 tablespoons of good quality butter
4 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 root parsley, peeled and finely chopped
1 fennel, finely chopped
1-2 red chillis, finely chopped
2 thyme stalks
4 decilitre dry, white wine
2 kilogram fresh mussels *
6 decilitre full fat cream
1 handful of fresh parsley
Direction: Start with cleaning the mussels if they are not already cleaned. Peel and chop garlic, shallot, root prasley, fennel and chili. In a pan, melt butter and fry the onion and garlic with thyme without browning it for around five minutes. Add the vegetables and chili. Let it fry for a couple of minutes more. Add white wine and let this boil for another two minutes. Add the full fat cream and the mussels. Put a lid on. Let this steam for around ten minutes. You will know when they are done as the shells will open. Rotate the mussels every now and then to make sure they are steamed evenly. Sprinkle fresh parsley on the soup before serving.
- Throw away mussels that are open before steaming. Try knocking them against the sink to see if they close. If they don’t they are most likely gone bad.
- Throw away mussels that are closed after steaming. These are bad! We don’t want to eat them.
- Any mussel that smell bad, is bad. Throw them away. We want them to smell fresh of sea.