Creamy Mussel Chowder


Mussel chowder makes a great lunch for friends and is always popular with the family for weekend meals, and it’s a firm favourite at our winery restaurant.

1kg / 35oz mussels in shells
1 large or 2 medium onions
I Tbsp canola or other oil
1 large carrot
2 large celery stalks
2 medium-sized potatoes
50g / 2oz butter
1/2 cup standard (plain) flour
2 cups milk
2 cups fish or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley and/or dill

Boil 2 cups of water in a large pot, then add a third of the washed mussels, cover and heat until shells open 5mm, then lift promptly, with tongs, into a large bowl. Repeat until all mussels have opened. Save the liquid. Cut onion(s) into 1cm cubes.

Heat the oil in a covered non-stick pan, then add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned. Chop the carrot, celery and potato into similar-sized cubes and add them to the pan. Strain the mussel cooking liquid into the pan of vegetables and simmer until vegetables are tender. Take the mussels from shells, discarding beards.

Cut the mussels into 1cm cubes, saving any liquid, and put them aside. Melt the butter in the cleaned mussel pot, then stir in the flour. Add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring or whisking constantly, then add the stock and boil again, still stirring. Take off the heat. Add the cooked vegetables and their cooking liquid and season carefully to taste.

Cool, then refrigerate for up to 24 hours if necessary. When ready to serve, heat, stirring constantly, until very hot. Add two-thirds of the mussels and any liquid, then pour into large bowls. Top with remaining mussels and chopped parsley or dill and serve with hot rolls, garlic bread, crackers or toast.

Serve with a glass of refreshingly crisp Wairau River, Sauvignon Blanc.

Makes 3-4 servings

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