“Of course the fishmonger didn’t have mussels the one day I wanted to record the recipe.”
So this was where my béchamel recipe ended up; a bowl of creamy seafood goodness. This recipe came about because I noticed my supermarket fishmonger was selling mussels at £3.00/kg. Of course, as can be seen above, the original week I was intending to make this, there were no mussels to be found. Fast forward a week later and I got my mussels at thankfully the same discounted price. I could have made chowder with any type of seafood – I just really wanted those discounted mussels since I haven’t had any in a while….
Instead of mussels and prawns, you could easily buy those frozen packs of seafood or fish pie mixes. That’s what I want to emphasise – use whatever you enjoy. Chowder, like most stews and soups, can be adjusted to include whatever flavours an individual enjoys and has readily available to them.
As with all soups, the first part is to bring out flavour from the vegetables by sweating them over a low temperature. It’ll look like a lot of vegetables (especially the leeks) but give it time and they’ll reduce down.
Mussels cook in no time at all. The main goal is to extract the juices which, like the vegetables, hold a lot of flavour. It is this juice, combined with your béchamel, that creates the seafood soup.
If, like me, you ended up leaving your béchamel sitting for a while before using, you may find it has thickened. Don’t worry – after adding the cream and stirring in the mussel juices, it’ll loosen and you’ll still have a delicious soup. It is possible to buy béchamel sauce, but I would encourage people to make their own – it’ll taste so much better.
After a thorough stir the cream is added, before the mixture is brought back to the boil. Then it’s a case of cooking the prawns and basil briefly. As a one-pot dish, it is simply a matter of adding ingredients in at the correct times.
Just make sure you have some bread to soak up the creamy soup and you’ll have yourself a very satisfying bowl of food. Hope you all enjoy my Mussel and Prawn Chowder.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions – sliced
- 2 carrots – julienne
- 2 leeks – julienne
- 1kg mussels – debearded and cleaned
- ~1.5 litres béchamel
- 250ml double cream
- 200g prawns
- 1 bunch of basil – chopped
- 1 bunch of parsley – chopped
- In a large pot, heat the oil over a low heat. Add the the onions and carrots and sweat for approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the leeks and continuing sweating for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the mussels, cover with a lid and allow them to steam for 2-3 minutes until their shells begin to open.
- Pour in the béchamel sauce and stir well to combine with the mussel/vegetable juices.
- Stir in the double cream. Bring to the boil before adding the prawns and basil, and cook for 3-4 minutes until the prawns are cooked. (At this stage, feel free to add additional milk, stock or water to adjust the consistency to your liking.)
- Garnish with parsley and serve with crusty bread.