Another perfect day for soup! Bright, fresh and tangy coconut soup with chilies and loads of briny mussels. Nothing beats a great mussels recipe! The rain outside is falling steadily, pooling in the uneven surface of the raised beds in the garden. Wet little puddles of rain and mud reflecting the bright colors of kale, chard, and parsley in the backyard, the bouncing light making the colors of the produce pop against the grey and black background. It reminds me of long-ago trips to the coast, where we would eat the most amazing clams and mussels right by the water on cool, dark, and wet days.
It’s incredible to have day after day of rain here after the long drought. It’s such a beautiful change. The hills are slowly turning a vibrant and almost neon green, while the flowers are beginning to explode bright and showy colors around every corner. There are lemons and oranges ripening on the trees through the neighborhood (and on the little tree in my garden!), which I can barely keep my hands off of while walking the reluctant dachshunds through the falling rain.
It’s basically the perfect weather for a warm and comforting coconut soup with fresh mussels recipe. Bright and tangy with a solid kick, this soup gets its creamy richness from the coconut, but is filled with flavors like shallot, garlic, jalapeño, scallion, ginger, and the rich brininess of the mussel liquor. Simple to prepare, and very healthy (as well as gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free), this soup is fantastic on its own or with the rice noodles.
For the mussels, you will probably get ones that are not completely clean. To clean them, scrub them well and pull off their little beards. Then soak them in cold or cool water in a cool, dark place covered by a towel for 20-30 minutes. A lot of people like to add a little cornmeal to the water to help the mussels (or clams) clean themselves. It’s not totally necessary, but people swear by it. No matter what, it’s always a good idea to clean your mussels for any mussels recipe. Depending on how full you want your bowl to be, the 1# of mussels that I used can fill four bowls fairly generously with the rice noodles, or two towering, mountainous bowls of mussels with no noodles. If you’re looking for a do-ahead option, the broth can be made in advance, then when you are ready, you can reheat the broth, cook the mussels, and go from there. If you really want, you could cook the rice noodles in advance as well, rinse them extremely throughly in cold water, then toss them well with oil. Cover and refrigerate, but probably not for more than one day.
Bright and Healthy Coconut Soup with Rice Noodles and Mussels Recipe
- 1 Tbs oil, coconut is best, but any neutral oil is good
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 1" nub ginger, peeled and smashed
- 1" nub galangal, peeled and smashed (optional)
- 1 jalepeno, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 dried chilies, like thai bird
- 8-10 kafir lime leaves, fresh or 1-3 dried
- 1 bunch cilantro, minced
- 2 cups fish stock (or vegetable, chicken, or plain water)
- 1 can coconut milk
- Approx 2 tbs fish sauce, to taste
- Juice of approx 2 limes, to taste
- 1 pinch salt, optional
- 1 package rice noodles
- 2 tsp oil, I used chili oil, but olive oil or any neutral oil works well.
- 1# mussels, cleaned well
- Prepare the noodles according to package directions. (Or, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the noodles, and cook until tender, stirring frequently, for possibly 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and toss with 2 tsp oil.)
- Heat the oil in a sauce pan or pot over a low heat.
- Add the shallot, ginger, galangal, garlic, jalapeño, and chilies, and sauté gently for about 5 minutes until shallot and garlic are translucent. Do not allow to color.
- Add the coconut milk and stock or water.
- Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the mussels and cover.
- As soon as the mussels begin to open, remove them and set aside.
- Strain your soup into another pot through a fine-mesh strainer. (Totally optional, but this will get rid of any bits of sand or shell.)
- Reheat the soup, add the cilantro,fish sauce and lime juice. Taste, and adjust seasoning.
- Plate the noodles, then the mussels, and pour the broth over. Enjoy!
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