Curried Mussel Chowder

Spices create warm depth of flavor and comfort that are welcome in winter. With plentiful potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions in the cellar, and homemade bacon, I was ready to make chowder this weekend when I came across great mussels in the market and rescued an organic, though not local, red pepper from the 69-cents-per-pound soup bin. Curry spices and ginger seemed like the right wrap-around flavor for this combination of ingredients.  And it definitely can qualify as chowder. 

I am a great fan of Jasper White’s 50 Chowders cookbook. I haven’t cooked my way through all 50 but I have availed myself of many techniques. This is my go-to book when I have fish frames to turn into stock. He includes a recipe entitled “Lightly Curried Mussel Chowder” that was my jumping-off point for this meal. His chowder had way too much cream for my taste (he used up to 2 cups of heavy cream and I used ½ cup light cream but could have used half-n-half or whole milk satisfactorily). He also had a greater proportion of mussels to vegetables than mine. This was a great, flavorful, slightly spicy and fairly hearty Sunday supper, accompanied by a little salad and some crunchy bread.

Curried Mussel Chowder adapted from Jasper White

2 lbs PEI mussels


1 oz salt pork (I used homemade un-smoked bacon)

1 tsp butter or vegetable oil

1 small onion, chopped into ½-inch pieces

½ small red pepper, chopped into ½-inch pieces

1 tsp finely chopped ginger

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped (about 2 tsp)

2 tsp curry powder

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 medium-large yellow potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1/3-½ c light cream, half-and-half, or whole milk

Salt and pepper

Optional garnish: additional chopped red and green peppers, sliced scallions, cilantro leaves

Categories: Seafood, Shellfish, Soup, Sweet potatoTags:

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