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    Mussel, leek and barley soup with dill cream

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    Mussel, leek and barley soup with dill cream

    by Diana Henry

    • Preparation time: 20 minutes
    • Cooking time: 45 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes

    Serves: 6


    2kg mussels
    3 shallots, finely chopped
    500ml dry white wine
    700ml fish stock
    100g pearl barley
    1 large carrot, diced
    35g unsalted butter
    1 stick celery, diced
    2 medium leeks, sliced
    150g waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped
    300ml tub soured cream
    20g pack dill, chopped


    1. Wash the mussels in a sink of cold water, removing any little beards and scrubbing off any barnacles. Discard any that are not closed or any with broken shells. Put the mussels in a colander (in batches if necessary) and rinse really well under cold running water.

    2. Put the shallots and the wine in a large saucepan and set over a medium heat. Add the mussels and stir them round. Cover the pan and allow the mussels to cook (for about 4 minutes) until they open, shaking the pan a couple of times. Strain the mussels through a colander set over a large bowl, collecting the cooking liquor in the bowl. Strain the mussel liquor through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or muslin to remove any sand and other particles.

    3. Put 300ml of the strained liquor in a large saucepan with the fish stock (mussel liquor alone can produce a soup that’s too strongly flavoured for some people). Add the pearl barley and carrot and bring the liquid to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

    4. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and cook the celery and leeks together. Turn them over in the butter, then season, add 2 tbsp water, turn the heat down, cover the pan and cook for about 12-14 minutes until soft. The vegetables shouldn’t colour, just soften. Add them, with all the buttery juices, to the barley and carrots. Add the potatoes and cook for another 20 minutes, until everything is tender.

    5. Remove most of the mussels from their shells – leave a few as they are, it just looks good – and throw away any mussels whose shells haven’t opened. Mix the soured cream and half the dill together in a small serving bowl.

    6. Add the mussels to the pan with the barley and vegetables. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little water. Check the seasoning. Heat through, add the rest of the dill and serve with the soured cream mixture

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