Potage Billy By

This recipe was invented for the sole purpose of pandering to American snobbishness about eating mussels with their fingers. A very good customer by the name of William Brand of Ciro’s in Deauville having invited some American friends to lunch asked the chef, Pierre Franey, to concoct a soup which included the juices of the mussels but not the mussels themselves. It was such a success it became established as Potage Billy Brand. Discretion, eventually, changed the name to Potage Billy By or sometimes Billy Bi.


  • 900g/2lb mussels
  • 1 tbsp porridge oats
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 55g/2oz butter
  • 300ml/½ pint dry white wine
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1.2litres/2 pints fish stock
  • 600ml/1 pint whipping cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


Wash and scrape the mussels, making sure the beard is removed. Leave for a couple of hours or overnight in salted water to which you have added the porridge oats. In a large saucepan fry the shallots and celery in the butter for about 3 minutes before adding the dry white wine, bouquet garni, bayleaf, peppercorns and mussels. Cook over a high heat, with the lid on, shaking the saucepan very often until the mussels open. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove all the mussels and strain the residual liquid through a muslin sieve. Add the fish stock and bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool, then add the cream and heat up once again, bringing just to the boil, stirring continuously. Cool for 2 minutes. Ladle a little liquid into the egg yolks and whisk, and then add this to the soup with the chopped parsley, stirring well. Add salt and pepper if need be.