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Artichoke and Mussel Bisque

Prep: 15 mins | Cook: 30 mins | Total: 45 mins | Servings:6

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I made this soup the very first time about 50 years ago. This is one of my most prized creations. It all started after taking a tour of Penn Cove Shellfish, on Whidbey Island, Washington. When we left, they gave me a massive bag of fresh mussels, right from the sea. I needed to figure out what to do with them all!

This soup was one of the results. It also combines two of my other favorite ingredients, the artichoke and a fennel bulb.

This soup has a smooth and velvety quality. There's a rich flavor coming, not only from the cream, but from the artichoke heart. The fennel gives it a nice subtle sweetness, while also complementing the mussels with a light anise flavor.

This soup takes some work to make, but ... for a special occasion, a romantic evening, or just for a day spent playing in the kitchen, trying new things ... this is a good one. The end result is out of this world!

Video Note: Cleaning an artichoke, to get to the heart, takes a little bit of work. Here's a great video that shows the method.

Nutrition Note: I did not include the lemon in the nutrition, because it is not eaten. Also, the all the nutrition I can find for mussels seems to base the nutrition off of the mussel, without the shells. However, you purchase them "with" the shells. Mussels definitely have carbs. I'm going to assume 1 lb. of mussels has about 24 mussels, weighing about 12 grams each, when cooked and removed from their shells. This is about 4 mussels per person, and totals 288 grams with of "mussel meat".
Artichoke and Mussel BisqueArtichoke and Mussel BisqueArtichoke and Mussel Bisque

IngredientsCaloriesFatProteinCarbsFiberSA'sNet Carbs
1 each (108g)  lemon0000000
4 medium sized (512g)  artichokes2400165228024
1 bulb (234g)  fennel7303177010
1/2 cup (118.5g)  water0000000
4 sprigs (2g)  fresh tarragon, leaves only2.02.04.12.48.2800.2
2 tbsp (28g)  unsalted butter (or coconut oil)2002200000
3 each (9g)  garlic cloves, diced13013003
1 lb (454g)  fresh mussels, in their shells (will result in about 288 grams, when cooked and removed from shells)247.685.7634.5611.520011.52
1/4 cup (58g)  white wine, good quality47.56001.74001.74
1 1/4 cups (297.5g)  cream, heavy whipping1026.251106.258.75008.75
salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste0000000
Totals (of 6 Servings):1849.51137.8g60.93g94.49g35.28g0g59.21g
Per Serving:308.2522.97g10.16g15.75g5.88g0g9.87g *

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Method:

  1. Artichokes start to oxidize and turn brown within seconds of cutting into them. To prevent this, we want to soak them in acidulated water (water with lemon juice, wine or vinegar added to it). Cut a lemon in half and squeeze it into a large bowl or pot, containing about a gallon of cold water.
  2. Clean the artichokes using the method shown in the video within the recipe notes. When you are done, you should have only the artichoke heart and some of the internal "white" portion of the stem. All the leaves, fuzzy "choke" and hard fibrous outer layer should be cut away. As you clean each one, immediately place them into the cold acidulated water. Once in the water, splash them around a bit, to make sure they've been coated and "protected" by the lemon water.
  3. Cut the branches and top portion of the fennel bulb off. You should have something that is about the size of closed fist. Cutting through the stem, cut the fennel bulb into quarters. Now, cut the stemmy-core out of each fennel quarter and discard.
  4. In a medium sized pot, place 1/2 cup water on the stove and bring it to a boil.
  5. Remove the artichokes from the water and cut them into about 9 pieces each. Throw them into the hot water. You can discard the acidulated water, at this point.
  6. Coarsely chop your fennel and throw into the hot water.
  7. Add your tarragon to the pot, with some salt and pepper.
  8. Cover the pot and place on low, where the vegetables will steam for about 25 minutes.
  9. While the vegetables cook, check your mussels. Rinse them well and discard any which have opened.
  10. Remove the beards from your mussels. This is done by holding the mussel in one hand, then grabbing onto the gnarly looking fuzzy stuff with a wet towel and deliberately pulling it out and away from the mussel, while also pulling it down towards the hinged end.
  11. In a medium sized pot, over medium-high heat, melt a small amount of butter.
  12. Add your garlic to the pot and stir.
  13. Almost immediately, add your mussels to the pot. Stir them around, so they are coated with hot butter and garlic.
  14. Almost immediately, add your wine to the mussels. Turn the heat down to a medium-low and cover with a tight lid.
  15. Let the mussels steam for about 5 minutes. After about 5 minutes, look into the pot and make sure they've all opened. If they haven't all opened, steam for another 1 to3 minutes.
  16. Once the mussels are steamed, strain them through a colander, while making sure to save the mussel/wine liquid.
  17. Add the mussel/wine liquid to the veggies in the other pot. Also, if they veggies are sufficiently soft and "cooked", also add your cream at this point. You want to heat this up and keep it hot, but don't boil the cream.
  18. While the cream is warming with the veggies, pick the mussels out of their shells and keep warm. If any mussels did not open, throw them out.
  19. Puree your vegetable mixture in a blender. If it is too thick, you can thin it out with a little more cream or chicken, fish or vegetable stock. I personally like it a bit thick. Also, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper at this point.
  20. Strain the soup through a sieve, in case any fibrous strands have been left behind by the artichokes.
  21. Divide the soup between 6 bowls. Evenly divide the warm mussels between the bowls!
  22. In the photos, I floated a mussel inside a half shell, with a few fresh tarragon leaves and drizzled a little fresh cream around the top. All optional touches.
  23. Serve and enjoy!

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* Learn More: More about this recipe and nutrition ...

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