The people of Naples love fish and seafood in all variations. Especially in the cooler seasons also mussels have high season. For example as mussel soup, a culinary classic with a royal history.Jump to Recipe
The tricks of the Kings
Already Ferdinand I of Bourbon, King of Naples since 1751, loved mussels. In order not to have to do without this favourite dish even during Lent, he resorted to a trick: soups were considered a Lenten meal. So he ordered his cooks to prepare a mussel soup. This was also served before the religious obligations - virtually passing the strict eye of the popular Dominican Father Gregorio Maria Rocco. But at court nothing remains a secret for long. Soon other nobles copied the trick and ate their zuppa di cozze, preferably on Holy Thursday.
Red or white mussel soup
In Naples, mussel soup is traditionally prepared with tomatoes. But you can also find white varieties, the zuppa di cozze in bianco. “Mangiare in bianco” in Italy refers to a mild, easily digestible food, for example for sick people or for those on a diet. This makes the soup version with paprika, the zuppa 'e cozzeche cu 'o rrusso, all the more hearty. The peppers are first cooked in the oven, then pureed and dried again in the oven. If there is a spicy pod, this paste becomes quite hot. Some chili in a classic mussel soup also goes great with the seafood.
Mussel soup Neapolitan style
- 1.2 kg mussels, Approx.
- 20 cherry tomatoes
- 4 small octopus
- 4 king prawns
- 1 clove garlic
- olive oil, extra virgin
- 1 handful parsley
- black pepper, freshly ground
- 8 slices white bread, toasted
- ½ glass wine, dry white
- 1 chilli pepper
- Wash the mussels well with cold water, if necessary removing any “beards” with a toothbrush. Fresh mussels are usually closed. With open mussels, you should do the knocking test: tap the mussel firmly but gently on a table. If it does not close afterwards, you should discard it. Place the other mussels in a wide pan, turn up the heat and close the lid for a few minutes. While doing so, tilt the pan back and forth so that the mussels get evenly heated and can open. The mussels that have not opened after cooking are also discarded. Strain the resulting mussel stock through a very fine sieve or cloth and put it aside. Keep the mussels warm in a preheated container.
- Immerse the tomatoes briefly in boiling water, peel and cut into pieces. Wash octopuses and dab dry. Now heat oil in a wide pan and fry the garlic clove. If desired, add some chopped chilli. Do not forget to remove the seeds! Turn the octopus briefly in the hot oil several times until it is nicely fried. Remove the garlic. If you wish, douse with white wine and let the liquid evaporate.
- Add the tomatoes and leave to simmer covered over a low heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the king prawns and sauté for a few minutes. Add the mussel stock and heat everything up again briefly. The zuppa should be more of a liquid sauce than a real soup. Remove from heat and season with chopped parsley and black pepper.