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Mussels and Shells in a Saffron Tomato Soup

  • Yield: 4-6 first course servings 1x


  • 1 package (750 grams) Pomi brand or similar strained tomatoes
  • 4 cloves peeled garlic, divided
  • Pinch good quality saffron, soaked in warm water to infuse
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ lb shell-shaped pasta
  • 2 lbs black mussels, beards removed
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley, divided


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat one tbsp extra-virgin oil. Add 2 peeled garlic cloves and sauté until light brown. Discard the cloves; the oil is now flavored with the garlic.
  2. Deglaze the pan with an ounce of wine and then add the strained tomatoes and the saffron infusion. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, to let all the flavors meld. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the mussels will add more salt. Keep warm on simmer.
  3. Cook the shell-shaped pasta in heavily salted boiling water to 2 minutes less than al dente per the package directions. Drain well and add to the saffron broth. Stir to combine. Continue to simmer the broth until the pasta is completely cooked and has released some of its starch.
  4. In a separate pan big enough to hold all the mussels, heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the 2 remaining garlic cloves and a pinch of red pepper flakes and lightly brown. Add the mussels and stir into the oil. Add the remaining white wine, 1 tbsp of parsley, and toss. Cover and let the mussels steam open—about 5-to-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mussels cool until you can handle them.
  5. Saving the accumulated liquid, remove the mussels from the shells and transfer to the tomato-pasta mixture. Discard and mussels that don’t open. Pass the mussel broth through a cheesecloth or paper towel in a strainer and add to the tomato broth. Stir to combine.
  6. Reheat the soup before serving and ladle into warm bowls. Top with the remaining chopped parsley.