Mussel, vegetable, rice and noodle soup

Mussel, vegetable, rice and noodle soup
  1. An interesting technique for opening mussels and other bivalves: wash the mussels under running water and debeard them. Heat 4 litres of mineral water over the stove in a large pot. When the water comes to a boil, toss in twenty mussels or so. As you notice them opening slightly, remove them with a spider skimmer and set them on a tray. Repeat until all the remaining mussels have been boiled. Next, simply remove the meat from the shells, checking each mussel to make sure there is no beard hidden inside. When you have finished, use a cheesecloth to strain the broth that you have created while boiling and pour it over the mussels. Store in the fridge. (Mussels and clams opened using this technique can be used to make a magnificent appetizer: serve them whole inside their shells and dress them with vinaigrette or with lemon or lime wedges.)
  2. Sauté all the vegetables, except the peas, for 2 minutes in a pot with hot oil. Carefully add salt.
  3. Add the rice, the bouquet garni and 2 l of boiling mineral water to the pot and let the mixture cook for 9 minutes over medium heat.
  4. Add the noodles and peas and continue cooking for 3 additional minutes.
  5. Now it's time to add 100 ml of the mussel broth you strained and set aside earlier. Let the mixture cook for another minute, fine-tune with salt if necessary and add a little white pepper to taste. Remove the pot from the heat, add the mussels and mix them gently into the soup. Once you have removed the bouquet garni, your soup will be ready to plate and serve.
  • 2 kg small, high-quality rock mussels
  • 4 carrots, cut into julienne strips
  • 4 leeks, cut into julienne strips
  • 8 bulbs of green garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, cut into julienne strips
  • 20 cm celery trunk (the whitest part), cut into julienne strips
  • 100 g very young peas
  • 1 bouquet garni, made of 1 sprig of parsley, 6 strands of saffron and half a bay leaf
  • 100 g rice
  • 100 g no. 2 noodles
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • white pepper

This soup is scandalously colourful and aromatic, evocative of both the sea and your everyday vegetable garden; its unusual yet magnificent texture is a great way to enjoy mussels. It can also be made with clams, cockles, razor clams or date mussels.