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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Clams and Mussels in Potato-Leek Soup

Well, our 4th Annual Soup Month has come to a close and for our final recipe of Soup Month 2012, we have a generous serving of delicious steamed shellfish served over a creamy potato soup.  My oldest daughter has been waiting all month for this recipe, so she was happy when she finally saw mussels on the menu!

For this Clams and Mussels in Potato-Leek Soup recipe, we prepared a simple pureed potato and leek soup, using just a few basic ingredients to let the flavors of the shellfish really pop.  While the soup cooked, the shellfish were quickly steamed in olive oil and white wine, which brings all of the natural juices out of the shells, so they can be included in the soup.  About half of the meat from the mussels and clams is included in the soup, while the other half is served in the shell, both for decorative purposes and also to keep the meat in the shell with all of those delicious juices.

Many people are not sure how to prepare mussels or clams, so they avoid cooking with them all together.  Shellfish are really very easy to prepare and just require a small amount of liquid in the pan to help them steam.  The shellfish actually have enough of their own juices that additional liquid is not really necessary, but it does add more flavor to the shellfish during the cooking process.

Beginner Tip:  If you have never tried to steam your own shellfish, and are still a little reluctant, try this instead.  Follow the instructions below to steam the shells, then serve the clams and mussels over a bowl of cooked linguine.  Melt some butter in a skillet and add a teaspoon or two of olive oil, then saute some minced garlic in the butter and olive oil until the garlic is fragrant and slightly browned.  Pour this butter mixture over the shellfish and the linguine and you have a super simple dinner that tastes incredible.  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Olive Oil
2 tsp Minced Garlic
1 medium Shallot, diced
1  Leek, finely chopped (include the white and a little of the green)
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
4  medium  Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-1/2 cups  Water
1 bottle  Clam Juice
1/2 cup  Heavy Cream
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper to Taste
2 lbs  Cleaned Mussels
2 dozen  Cleaned Clams
1 cup White Wine
Chopped Fresh Parsley for Garnish
Olive Oil for Garnish

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat and add 2 TB olive oil.  When the oil is warm, add the garlic, shallot, leek and thyme to the pot and saute for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Add the potatoes and sauce for 4 minutes until they begin to brown slightly on the edges.

Add the water and clam juice to the pot and continue to cook over medium-high heat until the potatoes are cooked through.  (Add a bit more water to the pot, if needed.)

When the potatoes are tender, add the cream to the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the soup until very smooth, then return the soup to the pot and keep warm over low heat.  (The soup will appear slightly thick at this point, but hold off adding any other liquid.  The soup will be thinned when the shellfish juices are added, and more liquid can be added, if needed, at the end of the cooking process.)

To Cook the Mussels and Clams:  Add 2 TB olive oil to a very large skillet or saute pan.  Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is shimmering and very hot.  Carefully add the shellfish to the pot, stirring as they begin to sizzle.  Pour the white wine over the shellfish and stir again to evenly coat.  Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until the shells begin to open.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the shells that have opened to a platter.  If some shells did not open, cover the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes longer, to give them a chance to open.  Discard any shells that do not open.

Use a spoon to scoop the meat out of half of the mussels and clams and add the meat to the soup, and stir the soup to combine.  Strain the cooking liquid from the shellfish through a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter and pour the filtered broth into the soup.  This will thin the soup and you can add additional cream or water to the soup if you prefer a thinner texture.

Ladle the soup into bowls and place several of the opened shellfish on top of the soup as a garnish.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley and drizzle with olive oil before serving.  Enjoy!!


  1. I can see why this would be a favorite of your daughter...it sounds delicious.

  2. It was really quite delicious. I've always loved the simplicity of cooking shellfish. They always taste so fresh, even with the most basic seasoning. Thanks for visiting, Karen.


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