Black mussel, saffron and fennel soup

Courtesy Peter Goffe-Wood from Kitchen Cowboys in Salt River and a Master chef SA judge

The mussel’s ‘beard’ is known as the byssus. It is used by the mussel to attach itself to surfaces with the aid of adhesive cement, which the mussel secretes. Before preparing a mussel for cooking and eating, the byssus should either by cut off or pulled out with a sharp tug, then discarded. If cooked, these taste sandy and unpalatable.
Mussels are a good source of Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Phosphorus and Zinc, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin B12, Iron, Manganese and Selenium. Mussels are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and iodine.


  • 300 g mussels
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced (save fronds for garnish)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 100 ml cream


  • Put a large stainless steel pot on the stove and heat the pot for 5 min.
  • Add the mussels and the wine.
  • Cover and steam until all the mussels have opened.
  • Pour the mussels into a colander, keep the stock to one side; you will need it later for the soup base.
  • Discard any mussels that have not opened and remove the rest from their shells.
  • Put a medium saucepan on the stove.
  • Add a little oil followed by the fennel and garlic.
  • Fry until the fennel is soft and translucent.
  • Add the saffron followed by the mussel stock.
  • Bring to the boil and then add the cream and simmer for a further 10 min.
  • Add the mussels back into the soup and remove from the heat.
  • Add the garnish and serve.