Is your soup menu a snooze? Consider this distinctive seafood chowder where California avocados act as a rich and colorful wake-up call.
- 18 mussels (about ½ pound)
- ¼ cup dry white wine or water
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pound purple or red-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut in ¼-inch dice
- 1½ cups water
- 1¾ cups milk
- ¼ cup heavy cream or additional milk
- 2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 2 California avocados, about 8 ounces each, cut in ¼-inch dice
- 1 pound scallops, cleaned, sliced in ¼-inch medallions
- 3 tbsp chopped, fresh cilantro
- 6 cilantro sprigs for garnish
- Thoroughly scrub, then rinse mussels, until clean.
- Discard any that remain open after handling.
- Steam mussels, covered, in wine until just open, about 4 minutes.
- Remove mussels with a slotted spoon, reserving liquid; discard any that do not open.
- Reserve in shell (unless serving chowder immediately, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature before serving the chowder)
- Strain mussel liquid through an extra-fine sieve to remove grit; reserve.
- Sauté onion in butter until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in cumin and garlic.
- Cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in reserved mussel liquid and potatoes.
- Add water.
- Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer.
- Cook, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in milk, cream, corn, and tomato; bring to a simmer (do not boil or liquid could separate).
- Cook, covered, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in avocado and scallops; cover.
- Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 4 minutes.
- Stir in chopped cilantro (if you are not serving immediately, pour into an airtight container; store in the refrigerator).
- To serve, gently heat chowder in a covered pot.
- Divide chowder among 6 warmed, shallow soup plates.
- Stick 3 reserved mussels in their shell into the hot liquid of each serving.
- Garnish each with a cilantro sprig.
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