What to Eat in France: Saffron Mussel Soup

Published by Wednesday, July 29, 2015 Permalink 0
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What to Eat in France: Soupe de moules safranée, or Saffron Mussel Soup

by Jonell Galloway

Saffron mussel soup is from the Loire region. The particularity of the Loire version of this soup is that it has leeks, which are not commonly used with mussels. The Loire Valley produces more than 24% of all leeks in France, more than any other region.

The proportions of the ingredients can vary, although the fumet needs a bit more precision than the mussels and soup. The general rule is to make as much fumet as you need for the amount of mussels you’ve cooked.



Mussels à la marinière:

Mussels, cleaned
White wine
Shallots, chopped

Fish fumet:

2 T. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped finely
Bouquet garni
2 lbs fish bones
1 cup white wine


Leeks, chopped
Mushrooms, chopped

Crème fraîche


Moules à la marinière

  1. Put cleaned mussels into a stock pot. Cover with white wine and shallots.
  2. Cook on medium high heat until all mussels are open.
  3. Use a wire strainer or slotted spoon to remove all mussels from broth. Save broth and set aside.

Fish Fumet

  1. Melt butter.
  2. Add fish bones. Cook until they start to get rigid.
  3. Add onion, shallots and bouquet garni. Sautée until transparent.
  4. Add white wine. Stir well.
  5. Add enough water to make soup and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.


  1. Melt butter.
  2. Sautée leeks and mushrooms.
  3. Add flour and make a roux, stirring constantly for 2 minutes, until flour is cooked.
  4. Gradually add fumet, stirring non-stop with a wire whip until smooth.
  5. Add mussel broth and continue stirring.
  6. Cook on medium low heat for 30 minutes.
  7. Shell mussels.
  8. Right before serving, add shelled mussels, saffron and crème fraîche.

You’ll be able to read more recipes like this in my book, The French and What They Eat.


I grew up on Wendell Berry and food straight from a backyard Kentucky garden. I live in France and Switzerland, and am a freelance writer specializing in French cuisine. I attended Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris and the Académie du Vin, worked for the GaultMillau restaurant guide and CityGuides in France and Paris and for Gannett Company in the U.S., and collaborated on Le tour du monde en 80 pains / Around the World with 80 Breads with Jean-Philippe de Tonnac in France; André Raboud, Sculptures 2002-2009 in Switzerland; Ma Cuisine Méditerranéenne with Christophe Certain in France; At the Table: Food and Family around the World with Ken Albala, and a biography of French chef Pierre Gagnaire. I ran a cooking school in France, and owned a farm-to-table restaurant, The Three Sisters’ Café, with my two sisters in the U.S. I organize the Taste Unlocked bespoke food and wine tasting awareness workshops with James Flewellen, am an active member of Slow Food, and run the food writing website The Rambling Epicure. My work has been published in numerous international publications and I have been interviewed on international public radio in France, Switzerland, and the U.S. I just signed on at In Search of Taste, a British print publication, and am now working on two books, The French and What They Eat and What to Eat in Venice.

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