Spicy Mussel Soup with Grilled Bread

Extra Virgin
Spicy Mussel Soup with Grilled Bread
Cozzeal la Tarantina con Fettunta

G: When I was in the army and stationed in Florence, home comforts weren't very far away. When I could leave the base, I would zip to our house in Fiesole, eat a home-cooked meal, and be back by curfew. I would often bring a roommate, and a guy from Taranto who especially loved this mussel soup from his region, Apulia. He always wanted it super spicy. It's a dish that really reflects the simplicity and freshness of the ingredients -- Deborah says it's what turned her on to enjoying mussels. With a nice chunk of garlic-rubbed, olive oil-soaked, grilled bread called fettunta, and a glass of chilled white wine, this is a wonderful summer meal. 
 
Soup
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 3 garlic cloves, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Grilled Bread (Fettunta)
  • 1 loaf country bread or Pane Toscano, thickly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
To make the soup: In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, or until you smell their sweetness. Stir in the white wine and cook for about 1 minute, until it begins to simmer. Add the mussels and cover tightly. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the mussels just begin to open. Remove from the heat and discard any mussels that did not open.

Transfer to bowls, sprinkle with parsley, and drizzle with oil. Serve with the fettunta. Meanwhile to make the grilled bread: Preheat the broiler, or place a stovetop toaster over high heat. Place the sliced bread on the broiler pan 4 inches from the heat (or on the stovetop toaster, if using) and grill about 1 minute per side until golden brown. Rub the garlic on both sides. Remove from the heat and drizzle generously with olive oil. Serve immediately.

From Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar, Clarkson Potter 2014. 

Yield: 
Serves 4-6
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