Recipe: Raul Diaz's mussel soup, paired with Verdelho

29 October 2020

Serves 2

  • 1kg mussels in shells
  • 3tbs olive oil
  • 1 white onion, finely sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • A pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • A pinch of ground cumin
  • A pinch of dried oregano
  • 100g long grain rice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Sea salt and black pepper

When I was growing up, my aunt Golla influenced me immensely in the kitchen. She taught me that it's vital to know how to cook, but it's even more important to have a connection to the ingredients you're cooking. My family enjoyed this mussel soup at nearly every Sunday lunch, and it's one I love to serve with a nice bottle of Verdelho.

Wash the mussels well, removing the beards and any barnacles. If any are open, give them a sharp tap – if they remain open, discard.

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the mussels. Cover them with 250ml water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a lively simmer, put the lid on, and cook for about four minutes, or until the shells have opened. Remove the mussels and set aside, reserving the broth the mussels were cooked in. Discard any mussels that haven't opened.

Heat the olive oil in another saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, red pepper and garlic. Cook gently until the onion is translucent and the vegetables have softened, about 10-15 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, remove most of the mussels from the shells, reserving a few in the shell for garnish.

Add the chilli flakes, cumin and oregano to the cooked vegetables and season with salt and black pepper. Stir to combine, then add the reserved broth, the rice and the bay leaves. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the rice is cooked.

Add the milk and egg yolk and stir to incorporate, then add the deshelled mussels and heat through for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve with a few mussels in shells on the top of each bowl.


  • Home country Portugal
  • Other countries Australia, New Zealand, Spain
  • Main regions Galicia, Hunter Valley, Madeira
  • Famous appellations Madeira Verdelho, Vinho do Dão
  • Sweetness Dry to sweet
  • Fruits High
  • Acidity Medium to high
  • Alcohol Medium to high
  • Body Full
  • Glassware White
  • Temperature Chilled
  • Cellar Two years for young dry wines. Fortified wines can age for decades
  • Budget £-£££

Verdelho is another very old variety, dating back to 15th-century Portugal, and specifically the island of Madeira. Originally known for being one of the noble grapes used to produce a style of Madeira, the island's famous fortified wine, it is now also being used to produce some delicious dry wines. This grape should not be confused with Spain's white grape Verdejo.

Verdelho is an aromatic grape that has extremely high acidity with a mix of citrus, stone fruits and floral notes. The Spanish region of Galicia produces exciting examples of Verdelho. Australia is producing small quantities of high-quality dry Verdelho wines that display ripe lemon flavours and sweet honeysuckle.


Verdelho was originally used to make the fortified wine Madeira – a complex wine with very ripe fruits and a high alcohol content. The newer trend is to produce dry wines with bracing acidity and flavours ranging from citrus to stone fruits. When the grapes are allowed to ripen fully, lovely aromas of honeysuckle enhance the wine's profile.


Lemon, lime, pear, apricot, spices, leaf and floral notes.

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