In the northeast of Brazil, in the state of Bahia, mussels are known as “sururu.” This is a great soup to serve at the beginning of a meal. In Brazil it is served in small cups or shot glasses, and in many little cafés it can be found served alongside a cold glass of beer. For a crunchy addition, chopped roasted peanuts can be mixed through the soup.
– 2 small fresh red-hot chilies, seeded and finely chopped.
– 2 garlic cloves.
– 6 fresh cilantro sprigs, leaves removed and stems finely chopped.
– 2 tbsp olive oil.
– 2 medium white onions, finely chopped.
– 4½lb (2kg) mussels in their shells.
– 6 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped.
– 2 bay leaves.
– 1¼ cups canned coconut cream or coconut milk.
– juice of 2 limes plus extra limes, cut into wedges, for garnish.
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: Prize open the mussels completely; remove the meat and discard the shells. Place two-thirds of the mussel meat in a food processor with the cooled tomato and onion mixture. Purée with the coconut cream until smooth. Return the purée to the heavy pan with the strained mussel cooking liquid and another 2 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the reserved whole mussels to the pan, season well with salt and pepper, and add the lime juice.
Step 3: Taste the soup. It should be rich and creamy, with a good base of chili flavor. The lime juice cuts through the richness to ensure the soup has a perfect balance of flavors, rather than being cloying. Serve hot in small cups or shot glasses, with each serving garnished with a lime wedge.