Creamy Mussel Soup



  1. Using your fingers, pull out the beards that are visible between the shells.
  2. Combine 4 quarts (16 cups) cold water and 1/3 cup salt in a bowl.
  3. Soak mussels for 15 minutes and drain/rinse.
  4. Repeat soaking, draining, and rinsing two more times.
  5. In a Dutch oven combine broth and 1 1/2 cups water.
  6. Bring to boiling.
  7. Add mussels.
  8. Reduce heat.
  9. Simmer, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes.
  10. Discard any mussels that do not open.
  11. Remove mussels from steaming liquid and let cool.
  12. Line a sieve with cheesecloth.
  13. Strain cooking liquid into a bowl and discard solids.
  14. Remove meat from mussel shells and discard shells.
  15. In a saucepan heat oil over medium heat.
  16. Add leek and garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  17. Stir in reserved cooking liquid, saffron, and pepper.
  18. Bring to boiling.
  19. Reduce heat.
  20. Boil gently 15 minutes.
  21. Stir in half-and-half.
  22. Heat through.
  23. Just before serving, stir mussels into soup.
  24. Sprinkle each serving with basil.