Artichoke & Mussel Soup

The winter weather has been dragging on and no matter how much I talk about spring trends, spring cleaning, spring decorating, and anything else spring related it's still snowing at this very moment outside my apartment. I'm starting to doubt that there will be spring and the season is going to transition right into summer. With all the depressing weather my go-to recipes are usually soups and other comfort foods such and bread and carbohydrate heavy items.  Since the snow continues to fall here is a recipe that involves mussels. Mussels are a favourite dish that I order when eating out. my two favourite places to have mussels are Local 510 for their ginger cream sauce or the Cheesecake Cafe for the equally delicious creole style and both are accompanied with fries. Ooh so yummy!

Steamed mussels
serves 4
2 pounds (about 1 kg) mussels
2 2/3 cup (400 ml) water

1. First prepare the mussels. Scrub each mussel individually and check to make sure their shells are tightly closed. Discard mussels with cracked shells. If any mussels are open, tap them gently against the counter and discard any mussels that don’t close up within a few minutes (do this no matter what, dead seafood can seriously harm your health). Debeard the mussels by pinching the “beard” between your thumb and first finger. Use a side to side motion and firmly tug the beard out. The beard isn’t harmful or inedible so don’t worry if there are a few little threads left that you can’t grasp.

2. In a large pot bring the water to a boil and then gently add the mussels. Cover and cook over medium high heat until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Reserve the liquid and keep the mussels in the pot with lid on.

Artichoke soup
1 can artichokes
1 onion
1 small leek
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil
reserved liquid from mussels + 2 cups (about 500 ml) vegetable stock
6 tbsp white wine
6 tbsp cream
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt & white pepper to taste
fresh thyme
1. Drain and cut artichokes into smaller chunks. Peel and chop the onion, leek and garlic clove finely.

2. In a medium pot, melt the butter/olive oil over medium heat. Add the artichokes, onion, leek and garlic. Cook on medium low heat for about 5-7 minutes until slightly softened (do not brown). Add the reserved mussel liquid, vegetable stock and wine. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for 5 more minutes.

3.  Add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and puree the soup in a blender.
Serve the artichoke soup with the mussels and sprinkle with fresh thyme.

I find this soup to be a little light on spices so if you want to add a little kick throw in a pinch of cayenne pepper!

Adapted from Dagmar's Kitchen: Original recipe called for Jerusalem artichokes but those are not easily found where I am so canned artichokes were substituted. 

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