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Mussel chowder with colorful vegetables

Serves 6

2 cups water
1 cup bottled clam juice
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons butter
1 pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, sliced
2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups heavy cream
1. In a large pot, bring the water and clam juice to a boil. Add the mussels, return to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, and cover the pot. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until the shells open. With a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a bowl, discarding any that do not open. Set aside 16 mussels in their shells. Remove the meat from the rest. Pour the mussel broth into a large glass measure and set aside to allow sediment to settle.

2. In a flame-proof casserole, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the butter. Cook the potatoes, salt, and pepper over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

3. Add the carrots, leeks, bell pepper, and shallot. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

4. Pour in the wine and bring to a boil. Let it bubble briskly for 3 minutes or until the liquid reduces by about one-third.

5. Add the reserved mussel broth, leaving any sediment behind. Stir in the cream. Bring to a boil. Add the shucked mussels. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

6. Add the reserved mussels in their shells and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, if you like. Ladle into bowls.

Note: The chowder tastes best made in advance. Leave to cool and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Adapted from Brooke Dojny

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