Mussel, fennel and kale chowder


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces (100 grams) double smoked bacon, diced (about three-quarters of a cup)
  • 2 cups sliced leek (white and light green part only)
  • 3 cups diced fennel
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 4 cups fish or chicken stock or water
  • 1½ pounds (750 grams) mussels, rinsed
  • 2 cups thinly sliced kale leaves


Heat oil in soup pot on medium heat. Add bacon and sauté for 4 minutes or until slightly crisped. Add leeks and fennel and sauté for 4 minutes or until softened. Add cherry tomatoes and continue to sauté until they soften, about 2 minutes longer.

Add stock and bring to boil, simmer 5 minutes. Raise heat and add mussels and kale, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the mussels have opened.

Ladle into 4 bowls and serve with baguette.


Wine Pairings

The ghost of Scotland's national poet will haunt a man for not suggesting "Scotch drink" with this hearty spread. And whisky – ideally with a splash of water or two ice cubes – would not be out of place. The malty richness, fruity overtones and smoky aroma of a lightly peated Scotch touch all bases for a home run. But if strong spirit seems too jarring, consider a malty Scottish brew, such as the excellent, moderately bitter Caledonia 80 or an oak-aged bottling from Innis & Gunn. Prefer wine? On the white side, an oaked chardonnay works. Red-wise, consider a syrah-based cuvee from southern France. Beppi Crosariol