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Innkeeper’s Mussel Chowder



  • 5 pounds mussels in shells
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound thin-skinned potatoes
  • 1 onion (1/2 pound)
  • 1 stalk celery (3 oz.)
  • ½ yellow or red pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder, mild
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 can tomato sauce (28 oz.)
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • some Salt and pepper


Serves: 6 as a main course or 8 to 10 as a first-course serving

Scrub mussels in cool water and remove the bissus threads or beards; discard any whose shells don’t close when tapped. In an 8- to 10-quart pan, combine mussels and wine; bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over medium heat until mussels open, 5 to 8 minutes. Pour into a colander set in a large bowl to collect broth. Let mussels stand until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes into ½-inch cubes. Peel and chop onion. Rinse celery and dice into ¼-inch pieces. Wash and seed yellow pepper and dice.

In the pan used for mussels, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery; stir often until onion is limp, 6 to 8 minutes. Add curry powder, cayenne pepper and basil; stir until spices become more fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Pour mussel juices from bowl into pan. Add tomato sauce, cream, and potatoes. Turn heat to high; when mixture is boiling, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove mussels from shells; discard shells.
Add mussels to chowder; cover and simmer just until mussels are hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls.