With its clean, slightly spicy taste, this Thai-influenced mussel chowder is lighter and more exciting than New England-style chowders that are laden with cream and bacon. Double the mussels if you want to serve it as a main course. This recipe can be made ahead and reheated.
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1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup diced onions
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
2 cups fish or chicken stock or water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound (500 grams) mussels
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped coriander or mint
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add garlic, ginger and red curry paste and sauté another 1 minute. Pour in stock, fish sauce, lime rind and sugar and bring to boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes
Turn heat to high, add mussels and boil until shells open (about 3 to 4 minutes), removing mussels as they open. Add coconut milk and boil until flavours are combined (about 2 minutes).
Reserve four mussels in their shells for garnish and remove others from remaining shells. Save any juices for soup. Return shelled mussels to soup, add 3 tablespoons coriander and lime juice and simmer together for 1 minute. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish each serving with a mussel and sprinkling of remaining coriander.