I’ve never tasted finer oysters and clams or more succulent black mussels than those that come from the waters north of San Francisco. Meaty mussels, ever so lightly stewed with cream and rich pork fat, is a mind-blowing combination.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced bacon
  • 1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds mussels, preferably cultivated, scrubbed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

In a large stockpot, cook the bacon and chorizo over medium heat until the fat renders and the bacon and chorizo are slightly crispy, about 15 minutes. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, garlic, and thyme and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Add the wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, making sure to coat all of the vegetables evenly, then add the broth and half-and-half. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a simmer, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the soup simmers, preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine the panko, rosemary, parsley, and thyme in a food processor and chop fine. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet, season with the salt, and drizzle with the oil. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until crispy and lightly golden. Set aside.

Add the mussels to the simmering soup, cover the pot again, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened (discard any that do not open). Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve in shallow soup bowls with a generous sprinkling of the seasoned bread crumbs.

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