Mussel, tomato and basil soup

Mussel, tomato and basil soup

A la Grecque
Mark Roper

Whenever possible, for reasons of freshness, I like to use locally caught mussels. I ask my fishmonger to let me know when they have a delivery of good-sized mussels so I know I’ll be getting optimum quality.


Quantity Ingredient
120ml olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 ripe tomatoes, skinned and diced
1 litre Fish stock
500g mussels, scrubbed clean and beards removed
150ml white wine
1/2 cup basil, chopped
60ml pernod
freshly ground black pepper
basil oil, to serve (optional)
or chilli oil, to serve (optional)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan and sauté the onions until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the fish stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put the mussels and white wine into another large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook over a low–medium heat, shaking the pan gently from time to time. Check after 4 minutes and discard any mussels that haven’t opened. Tip into a colander and reserve the cooking liquid. Strain this liquid through a clean muslin cloth to remove any sand or grit.
  3. Set aside about a quarter of the mussels to serve in their shells as garnish. Remove the mussel meat from the remaining shells and add to the simmering soup. Add the basil and Pernod and season with pepper. Taste the soup before adding some of the reserved mussel cooking liquid. You want the mussel flavour, but it can be very salty.
  4. Simmer the soup gently for a few minutes, but do not allow it to boil, as the mussels will shrink and become tough and rubbery. Divide the reserved mussels in their shells among 6 soup bowls and pour the soup over them. Drizzle with a little basil oil or chilli oil (if using) and serve straight away.
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