Billi Bi

Michael Cimarusti

Providence and Connie and Ted's, Los Angeles

This soup makes an excellent first course on a cold winter night. It can also make for a hearty main dish if served with lots of grilled crusty bread.


  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 5 pounds cleaned black mussels
  • 3 ounces sweet butter, divided
  • 8 ounces leeks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 5 ounces carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 5 ounces celery root, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 5 ounces sweet onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 ounces shallots, sliced into rings
  • One 750ml bottle dry white wine
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch Espelette pepper
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ounce roughly chopped Italian parsley


Begin by placing the cream on the fire in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring the cream to a simmer; reduce gently by half. To prevent the cream from boiling over keep a wisk in the saucepan. While the cream reduces, wash the mussels. Run the mussels under cold water, discard any that are open and those whose shells have broken, and remove the beards.

To make the soup, warm a large saucepan over a medium flame. Add 2 ounces sweet butter. When the butter melts, add the leeks, carrots, celery root, onions, and shallots. Sweat the aromatics until they begin to soften and the onions have become translucent. Add the white wine. Cover the pot; bring the wine to a simmer. Choose a colander that fits into the saucepan; line it with cheesecloth (note: the colander will be partially submerged in the simmering wine). Place the mussels in the colander. As they begin to open, remove them to a bowl and discard the mussels that do not open. When the mussels have cooled enough to be handled, remove the meat, strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve, add it to the soup, and discard shells. Simmer the soup with mussel juice for an additional 10 minutes. Add the reduced heavy cream, stir well, and season with cayenne, Espelette, white pepper, and add sea salt if needed. Stir in the remaining ounce of butter; allow the soup to cool slightly.

Separate the egg yolks into a small bowl and whisk them lightly. Temper the egg yolks with a few ounces of soup and whisk well. Add the egg yolk mixture back into the soup and whisk to incorporate. Gently raise the temperature of the soup to allow it to thicken; do not let the soup to boil. Add the mussels and the chopped parsley; serve immediately in warmed bowls.

Wine Recommendation: White French Burgundy


Serves 6