Potage Billi Bi (Cream of Mussel Soup)

Monahan's Seafood Market | Fresh Whole Fish, Fillets, Shellfish, Recipes, Catering & Lunch Counter-Ann Arbor, Michigan

There are many stories regarding the origin of this traditional French soup from the Brittany coast…the most famous being that a chef at Maxim’s of Paris named it after American tin tycoon, Williams B. Leeds, a regular patron and huge fan of the soup. Remember to follow the Monahan’s Mussel-culling protocol before steaming them.

2 lbs. mussels
1 T minced shallots
1 c dry white wine
1 t saffron threads
4 T butter
1 onion, minced
5 T flour
5 c fish stock (available at Monahan’s)
sachet (5–6 parsley stems, 6-8 black peppercorns, 1 sprig fresh or 1/2 t dried thyme, 1 bay leaf) bundled with string
1 egg yolk
1 c heavy cream or half & half
salt & pepper to taste

Scrub and remove beards from mussels. Set aside.

Combine shallots, wine and saffron in a pot large enough to accommodate all the mussels. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Add mussels, cover pot tightly and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 6–6 minutes shaking the pot from time to time. Remove mussels from the pot as their shells open. Remove the meat from the shells and refrigerate. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve.

Heat butter in a 3 quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and stir to coat evenly. Cover the pot and cook the onion until translucent (3–4 minutes). Add the flour and cook for another 3–4 minutes, stirring almost constantly with a wooden spoon.

Gradually add the mussel cooking liquid and fish stock, using a whisk to work out any lumps after each addition. Add the sachet and bring to a simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming as necessary. Discard the sachet, strain the soup, then return to the stove to simmer again.

Blend the egg yolk and cream in a bowl, then add a ladle-full of the hot soup and whisk (this is called a liaison mixture). Add the bowl of liaison mixture back into the soup pot and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the mussel meat back to the soup and heat through. Adjust seasoning and serve in heated bowls.

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Monahan's Seafood

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