Starring an exceptionally flavoured broth featuring gut-friendly miso, this soup proves embracing the great outdoors can play beautifully on your palate without being fussy. If visiting the coast, look for fishermen bringing just-harvested shellfish to shore. Or bring them from home in a bowl covered with a damp paper towel and placed in a cold cooler. You could also use a combination of mussels, clams, and even oysters. Serve with chunks of crusty bread.
Underwater: Prepping shellfish
Gently tap mussels and clams with open shells against the countertop. Discard any that do not close their shells within a few minutes or that have cracked shells. To avoid serving gritty soup if using wild shellfish (farm-raised clams and mussels are usually cleaned and flushed of sand before they’re sold), submerge clams or mussels in bowl of cool water. Leave them to soak for at least 30 minutes.
While underwater, they will breathe and filter the water, which will begin to push out any sand or other ocean grit from inside their shells. Adding about 1/4 cup (60 mL) flour to the soaking liquid can help speed up the removal of sand or grit.
Lift shellfish from water and scrub shells to clean any grit from the outside surface. Remove beards from mussels using tweezers.
2 Tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper
1/4 tsp (1 mL) red chili flakes (optional)
1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine
1 1/2 to 2 lbs (750 g to 1 kg) mussels or clams
2 Tbsp (30 mL) white or yellow miso paste
1 lb (450 g) baby or new potatoes, quartered
4 cups (1 L) spinach
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 green onions, thinly sliced
In large saucepan over medium heat on camp stove or in Dutch oven placed on grill grate set over a campfire, melt butter. Add shallots, garlic, and ginger; heat for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add black pepper and chili flakes, if using; heat for 30 seconds. Add wine and boil for 2 minutes. Add 3 cups (750 mL) water and bring to a boil. Add mussels or clams and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until shellfish open, 4 to 6 minutes.
Remove mussels or clams from broth with tongs or slotted spoon and place in large bowl; let stand until cool enough to handle. (Discard any unopened mussels or clams.) Remove meat from shells; discard shells. (May also be served with shells.) Return any juices to pan.
In small bowl, combine miso with 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the broth; stir into smooth paste. Set aside.
Place potatoes in pan and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Whisk miso paste into simmering broth. Stir in spinach and heat just until lightly wilted. Stir in lemon juice.
Divide mussels or clams among 4 bowls. Ladle soup mixture over shellfish and garnish with green onions.