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Southwest Mussel Chowder

This kid-pleasing mussel chowder recipe makes an inviting Fall soup. Cheesy, warm, and rich in mussels and nourishing fats, this Southwest Mussel Chowder always has them begging for seconds.

Its story is like many other such recipes born of necessity. One day I realized I had a freezer full of mussels instead of clams, so Southwest Mussel Chowder was born.

Southwest Mussel Chowder

The Players

The How-To

Begin by boiling mussels in just enough water or fish broth to cover them.  Boil just until the shells open, then remove from heat, drain, and allow to cool. Reserve the broth.

Add potatoes, green chiles, cumin, salt, and chili powder to the mussel broth and boil until the potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, remove mussels from shells and dice small.

When the potatoes are tender, turn off your stove. Remove half the potatoes and broth to a blender and blend until smooth. Add blended potatoes back to soup pot. Or, if you have a stick blender, blend in the pot but leave roughly half the potatoes intact. With burner still turned off, stir in butter, cheese, and diced mussels until butter and cheese are melted.

Dish mussel chowder into bowls and serve with a dollop of sour cream.


If you’re looking for a way to serve your family nutrient-dense mussels, I don’t think you’ll find a more simple, hearty recipe than this Southwest Mussel Chowder.

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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15 Responses to Southwest Mussel Chowder
  1. dailydiner
    September 20, 2009 | 1:22 pm

    I cant wait for it to cool down here in California. I love soup.
    .-= dailydiner´s last blog post …Inspiration Sando-Roasted Eggplant, Pepper, Mushrooms with Tomatoes and Basil =-.

    • KristenM
      September 20, 2009 | 5:46 pm

      Yes, I definitely started pretending it was Fall already when we had a break last week from the 90 degree heat. It dropped into the 70s and rained for a week straight. It was heavenly!!

  2. Bethany
    September 20, 2009 | 3:40 pm

    Whatever you do, don’t make OYSTER soup! It is NASTY!
    .-= Bethany´s last blog post …GAPS "Pumpkin" muffins =-.

    • KristenM
      September 20, 2009 | 5:44 pm

      LOL! I don’t think I’d be tempted to do that! As nutrient-dense as oysters are, I can only bring myself to eat them fried.

    • Blake
      September 21, 2009 | 1:21 am

      I’ve made an oyster soup before and had it turn out excellent. I’m sure there’s some sort of key there, but as I’ve never had it turn out bad, I’m not sure what it could be. Obviously you can’t use the shells. I used the liqueur from the oysters as the broth, didn’t add the actual oysters until the last part, so they didn’t cook very much. /shrug

  3. Local Nourishment
    September 20, 2009 | 4:32 pm

    Now I need a source for trustworthy mussels…
    .-= Local Nourishment´s last blog post …Does this dollar-off coupon make me look fat? =-.

    • KristenM
      September 20, 2009 | 5:44 pm

      Peggy — It’s my understanding that farmed blue mussels here in the states are quite sustainably raised. As long as they come from a U.S. farm, I don’t think you need to worry…

  4. TheWishfulChef
    September 20, 2009 | 4:52 pm

    Southwest Mussel Chowder | Food Renegade

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  5. Betsy
    September 20, 2009 | 5:30 pm

    As someone who’s never eaten a mussel in her life, what should I be looking for in a mussel? ‘Cause I’ve got to find some. This sounds delicious!

    • KristenM
      September 20, 2009 | 5:43 pm

      Betsy — Basically you want to stick to farmed blue mussels. If your grocery doesn’t carry them fresh, they’re probably available frozen. They’re usually quite inexpensive. I had a lot in my freezer from catching a grocery store sale where they were selling farmed mussels for a mere $1.99/lb.

    September 21, 2009 | 6:48 am

    Oh wow this looks delicious!

    Bethany – oyster chowder is delicious. It’s a lot like clam chowder. I think Blake is right — you don’t want to overcook the oysters. Adding them at the end is the way to do it.

    I also made a really excellent oyster risotto once from oysters in a jar. With lobster stock and lots of Parmesan and cream, and I think I added peas and prosciutto.

    And Kristen, you don’t like raw oysters? Have you tried them?
    .-= CHEESESLAVE´s last blog post …Update on Kate’s Anemia =-.

    • KristenM
      September 21, 2009 | 5:49 pm

      I tried them when I was a kid. I know I should try them again now as an adult, but just the idea of them makes me a bit squeamish. You have done VERY well to train Kate to like them from such a young age!!

  7. Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen
    September 22, 2009 | 11:48 am

    Lovely – mussels are such a good, nutrient-dense food. We love them and my son just can’t get enough of the mollusks. I think a lot of folks don’t understand just how kid-friendly traditional foods can be. Most kids are more adventurous than we give them credit for – provided their tastebuds haven’t been too damaged by processed and refined foods.
    .-= Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen´s last blog post …Heady and Aromatic: Mulled Wine for Autumn =-.

  8. Angelique from Bitchin' Kitchen
    September 25, 2009 | 2:58 pm

    I really love soup… it’s one of the things I love about it getting colder. Nothing like a great bowl of soup… this one is definitely on my “To Try” list!
    .-= Angelique from Bitchin’ Kitchen´s last blog post …Autumn Apple Cider Martini =-.

  9. Paul Hengstebeck
    February 10, 2014 | 5:33 pm

    I love mussels but have shied away from frozen. Is there a discernible difference in taste/texture?



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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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