Belgian Mussel Soup
Belgium is well-know for its beer and fries. But it’s also pretty keen on steaming up some mussels. Moules Frites is the most well-known Belgian recipe featuring mussels. You’ll find it in almost any café or brasserie you enter, whether you’re on the seaside or lost in Flanders fields. But visit a traditional Flemish kitchen, and you may find yourself lapping up this simple, home cooked mussel soup.
Leeks and celeriac accentuate this soup, which is as subtle as a Belgian compliment. The butter rounds out the flavor. It’s easy to image sitting in a farmhouse in Flanders, not far from the seaside in the not so distant past. A slice of rustic rye finishes the clean meal for a hearty lunch or a light dinner.
Mussels are one of the best choices to incorporate oceanic flavors into your recipes. I found a rich article on the subject worth reading. It goes into detail about the costs of aquaculture. Aquaculture, a development of the last 50-75 years, is the act of domesticating fish for the purposes of human consumption. Oddly enough, most of the fish domesticated today, most prominently salmon, are hunters. That means fish reared in aquaculture systems require inputs like fish meal. That fishermen catch fish to feed fish, not people. This input/output discrepancy recalls the failures of land-based domestication, such as chickens and cattle.
On the other hand, mussels have no artificial inputs, which means they will grow naturally without human intervention. They also filter seawater for their nutrients, which benefits the ecology. They require limited impact harvesting, so it has little effect on the surrounding environment. In general, bivalve mollusks like mussels, oysters and clams are just about your best choice when searching for seafood to add to any dish. Plus they add a silky effervescence to any dish, such as this Belgian Mussel Soup, which cannot be imitated.
Rustic Belgian Mussel Soup
- 0.5 piece of leek
- 200 gr celeriac
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 0.5 vegetable or fish bouillon
- 100 grams cooked mussels
- Clean the leek and celeriac. Cut the vegetables into small pieces.
- Saute the leeks with some pepper in the hot butter.
- Pour in 300 ml of water and the bouillon and cook the soup for 5 minutes.
- Add the mussels and let the soup cook for 1 minute more until all the mussels have opened.