You can use black or New Zealand green-lipped mussels for this French recipe. When buying either type, select ones with tightly closed shells that are not cracked or broken. If a mussel is open, tap it; it should close promptly. To clean mussels, scrub the shells well under running water. The beard, a fibrous tuft near the hinge, should not be removed until just before cooking. Grasp it close to the shell and pull on it with a firm tug. Today, with so many farm-raised mussels in the market, beards are less fully formed and are easier to remove.
1 cup dry white wine
3 shallots, minced
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 bay leaf
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 1/2 lb. mussels, well scrubbed and debearded
Baguette slices for serving
In a 3-quart casserole or large stockpot over medium-high heat, combine the wine, shallots, butter, 1 Tbs. of the parsley, the bay leaf and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the broth is aromatic, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the mussels, discarding any that do not close to the touch. Cover the pan tightly and steam the mussels until they open, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally so they cook evenly. Discard any mussels that did not open.
To serve, spoon the mussels into large warmed soup bowls, ladle some of the broth over them, and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbs. parsley. Serve immediately, with baguette slices for dipping in the broth.
Serves 2 to 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Soup, by Diane Rossen Worthington (Simon & Schuster, 2001).