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Nasturtium Billi-bi
Chef Tony Liu of August - New York, NY
Adapted by

Yield: 6 Servings


  • 4 pounds black mussels
  • 2 ½ onions, sliced
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 1 quart water
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ½ quart cream
  • 1 pound nasturtium flowers
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Rinse and drain mussels. In a large rondeau, sweat ½ of a sliced onion, thyme, and bay leaf with 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Add the mussels, white wine, and water to the rondeau and cook until they open. Drain and strain the broth through a fine sieve, reserving the broth for the soup. Pick the mussels from their shells and reserve the meat for garnish.

In a saucepot, sweat the remaining 2 sliced onions and garlic with 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Add the diced potatoes and mussel broth to the pot. Once the potatoes are soft, add the cream and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and reserve soup for later.

Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Trim the nasturtium flowers by picking off the leaves making two piles, one for flowers and one for leaves. Add the nasturtium leaves to the pot of water and blanch until tender, then shock in iced water. Squeeze out any excess water and reserve.

Separate the mussel soup evenly into two pots. Add the saffron, nasturtium flowers, and cayenne into one pot (let infuse for at least 10 minutes). For the other pot, add the blanched nasturtium leaves.
Transfer the contents of the first pot to a blender and puree according to manufacturer’s instructions. Remove from blender, strain, and cool down in an ice bath. Season with salt and white pepper

Repeat process for second batch of soup containing blanched nasturtium leaves. Do not strain. Cool down in ice bath. Season with salt and white pepper.

To Serve:
Serve the two soups together in a cold bowl and garnish with the meat from the mussels.


   Published: July 2005