Creamy coconut milk mussel chowder with smoky pancetta and toastie flax focaccia for dunking.
Soup has never really been my thing. Yep it’s comforting and easy on the tummy, but I just find it hard to consider it a meal. A soup with hunks of meat or flaky fish is of course a whole different story.
This being my second only ever mussel experience it by far exceeds the first. I was a little let anxious about messing up the cooking process this time knowing how straight forward and fool proof it is. Simply steamed for 4 minutes or so until all those beautiful mussels have opened up, I concentrated more on the chowder base in terms of packing in heaps of flavour.
Garlic, onion, celery and carrot…the veggie base of any good soup or stew, sautéed in ghee, and cooked until tender in the mussel broth. Coconut milk and coconut cream for silky luxury deliciousness, a little tapioca starch to thicken it ever so slightly. Smoky pancetta added a beautiful meaty dimension and once mingled with the cooked mussels, de-shelled for ease of eating, the end result was positively magical.
A chilly morning before work I devoured the bowlful, whipping it clean with chunks of toasted flax focaccia (this time made with golden flax seed..slightly more subtle flavour and perhaps a more appealing exterior but pretty much the exact same texture wise!)
Soft melt in the mouth mussels, tender yet far from mushy vegetables, sitting pretty in creamy light soup…I had a fork at hand but a nice sized spoon was all that was required. I did my upmost to hold on to some of the crispy pancetta but of course it disappeared with about 2 seconds flat. Totally irresistible! Lucky enough I’d stirred some through the chowder, infused with the smoky flavour.
If you can’t get smoked pancetta, smoky streaky bacon is pretty much the same thing…you just want that flavour and contrasting texture.
Go on give it a whirl…a speedy dinner, or share with you, yourself or…someone who needs a little winter warming pick me up. Like a hug in a bowl, it’s a must this time of year. Healthy comfort food at it’s best.
What’s your favourite alternative soup with a little more sustenance?
Mussel Pancetta Chowder
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: saute appetizer entree side gluten-free grain free low-carb paleo soy-free sugar-free coconut cream coconut milk dried figs pancetta
Ingredients (Serves 1-2)
- 1lb mussels (make sure they’re all close before cooking..discard any open ones!)
- 250ml (1 cup) water
- 4 slices of pancetta or smoky bacon
- 1 stalk of celery finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 medium carrot peeled and finely diced
- 2 small handfuls of swede/turnip peeled and finely diced (about the same amount as the carrot!)
- 1/4 medium onion minced
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1/4 cup (60ml) coconut cream (from the top of a can of full fat coconut milk that’s been refrigerated overnight!)
- 1/2 cup (125ml) full fat coconut milk
- 1 heaped tsp tapioca starch + 1 tbsp water
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Pink Himilayan Rock Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
- Toasted flax focaccia to serve (I sliced squares in to “fingers” and toasted them under a preheated grill for 2-3 minutes on each side!)
Place water in a large pot, bring to the boil and add the mussels. Cover with a lid and steam for 4-6 minutes until they are all open…discard any that remain closed.
Remove the majority of the mussels from the shells, leaving a few in the shells to serve.
Strain cooking water through a sieve in to a jug and set to one side.
Saute onion, and garlic with ghee for 5 minutes. Add in celery, carrot and swede and sweat for 8 – 10 minutes.
Pour in mussel cooking water, along with a further 60ml (1/4 cup) water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile pan fry pancetta for 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside until crisp and roughly chop.
Add in coconut milk and coconut cream and once almost boiling at in mussels and 3/4 of the pancetta, reserving some for garnish.
Allow to heat through. Whisk together starch and water and pour in to the pot. Whisk to combine and leave to simmer for a further 5 or so minutes to thicken. Season to taste. Garnish with parsley, reserved pancetta and mussels that remain in their shells, flax focaccia fingers for whipping that bowl clean!