Mussel Soup

From Sicily: Culinary Crossroads (Italy’s Food Culture) (Oronzo Editions, LLC, 2008)

Mussels have several other dialect names in Sicily–cozzi, cozzi niura, arcella, catacozzula, anapinnula–to name a few. The mussels that have been grown for centuries at Ganzirri, an inlet just outside Messina are much renowned.

4-1/2 pounds fresh mussels in their shells
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 peperoncino, hot red chili pepper, sliced [or dried flakes]
Sea salt
Fresh basil leaves

  1. Prepare the tomato sauce. In a large pot, fry the chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil until golden. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, clean and debeard the mussels, tossing them in a hot pan with a lid until they open. (Discard any that resist opening.)
  3. Remove the mussels from their shells, reserving any liquid. Add the mussels and their cooking liquid to the tomato sauce along with the parsley. Add chili to taste. Adjust the liquid, adding water if necessary, to make soup. Add salt to taste and serve garnished with a few basil leaves.