07/07/2010 08:51 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sexy Clam Soup from The Hundred-Foot Journey

My novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey, is out today, and in my celebratory exuberance I've decided to share with the HuffPost's audience a culinary secret from the Morais household. Here's how to make the clams and mussels soup that my novel's protagonist, Hassan Haji, and his friend, Chef Verdun, have while celebrating down in Marseille. Takes about 15 to 20 minutes to prepare, and another 20 minutes to 25 minutes to cook. A low-cholesterol gourmet meal in virtually the same time it takes to cook a hamburger.

Clams and Mussel Soup
Two dozen fresh clams in shell
Two dozen mussels in shell
One small tomato, diced
6 to 8 diced olives
Half a chopped onion, or one chopped shallot
Quarter of a red pepper, diced
A few strands fresh parsley, diced
A half dozen capers
6- 8 large cloves of fresh garlic, diced.
Three bay leaves
Italian seasoning, or Penzey's Fox Point, or both
Fresh ground pepper
A few strands of saffron
A bottle of decent dry, white wine


Cover bottom of a deep pot with olive oil under a moderate flame. Add garlic, olives, tomato, onion, red pepper, capers, parsley, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, Fox Point, pepper. This is a version of mirepoix (French term) or sofrito (Spanish term), a very common and tasty base used in a lot of Mediterranean cooking. Use whatever you have in your kitchen when making a mirepoix - a mushroom is sometimes a nice addition. Simmer ingredients until sweating, stirring frequently. Add saffron strands. Before the mirepoix mixture in the pot browns, add washed mussels and clams, and stir. Add the bottle of dry white wine. Cook with the lid on the pot for 20 to 25 minutes, until the clams and mussels are fully opened. Serve with a thick-crusted country bread and a salad. And, of course, a glass of chilled white wine. Serves four for dinner.

Afraid? Don't be. It is, as the English say, "a doddle." But if you want some reassurance, you can see me demonstrate how to make the dish, in videos:

Bon appetit.