A Chowder of Mussels and Leeks



  1. leeks 3
  2. smoked bacon 5 ounces (150g)
  3. butter 3 tablespoons (40g)
  4. mussels 2 pounds (1kg)
  5. white vermouth 2 glasses
  6. potatoes 1 pound (450g)
  7. heavy cream 3/4 cup (200ml)
  8. bay leaves a couple
  9. thyme 4 sprigs
  10. parsley a few sprigs, chopped


  1. Thinly slice the leeks and rinse them very thoroughly.
  2. No vegetable holds its grit like a leek.
  3. Cut the bacon into short, thin strips and put them into a deep, thick-bottomed pan with the butter.
  4. Let the bacon color lightly over medium heat.
  5. Decrease the heat, add the leeks, and cover with a lid.
  6. Let them cook for twenty minutes or so, with an occasional stir, until they are soft and sweetthey should not color.
  7. Remove from the heat.
  8. Check the mussels and pull away any beards.
  9. Discard any mussels that are broken, open, or exceptionally heavy.
  10. Put them in a large pot, pour in the vermouth, and cover tightly with a lid.
  11. Place over high heat until the mussels have opened (a matter of minutes), then remove each mussel from its shell.
  12. Peel the potatoes and cut them into large dice.
  13. Put them in a saucepan with 1 3/4 cups (400ml) of the mussel cooking liquor, drained through a sieve.
  14. Add the cream, bay, thyme, and a little black pepper (no salt).
  15. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat so that the potatoes simmer gently for about ten minutes.
  16. Add three-quarters of the cooked potatoes to the leeks and bacon.
  17. Put the remainder in a blender with the cream (pick out the herbs first) and blitz briefly until smooth (too long and it will turn gummy).
  18. Pour into the pan and add the mussels and parsley.
  19. Bring all to a boil and serve.