Zuppa di Cozze (zoo-pah dec cot-zay) makes excellent first course served by itself or as a light main course served with crisp buttered rolls and a chilled white wine. Remember to provide a plate for the empty mussel shells.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
1 celery stalk, trimmed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoon salt
2- teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano Vs lb. tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped
6 fl. oz. dry white wine
10 fl. oz. water
2v quarts mussels, scrubbed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, celery and garlic to the pan and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown. Add the salt, pepper, basil and orcgano to the pan and cook for a further 1 minute. Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the wine and the water and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are pulpy. Increase the heat to high, add the mussels and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the shells open.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a warmed soup tureen or individual soup bowls. Remove and dis-card approximately half of the shells. Set the mussels aside and keep warm.
Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl, pushing down on the vegetables with the back of a wooden spoon to extract all the juices. Return the liquid to the saucepan. Place the pan over high heat and bring the liquid to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, pour the liquid over mussels, sprinkle over the parsley and serve immediately