Orzo, mussel and cockle broth


This is a very simple Mediterranean style soup with the cooking liquid of the clams and mussels becoming the base. It is ideal on a cool winters evening served with loads of crusty bread to mop up the cooking broth. It is a favourite for my children, they love the simple sweet taste of the fresh local seafood. They also love it as a main dish tossed through some freshly cooked pasta.

Serves 6                                                                       


1kg of local Irish cockles, well scrubbed                                          
1kg of Dundrum mussels, bearded and well scrubbed                 
2ltrs of water                                                                   
2tblsp olive oil                                                               
1 large onion, finely diced                                             
4 cloves of garlic crushed                                                     
200g sun dried tomatoes, finely diced                           
150g orzo                                                                           
1tsp of saffron, mixed with 3tsp of water
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1tblsp of flat leaf parsley and mint, chopped


Discard any clams or mussels that do not close at the touch.
In a wide base pan bring the water to the boil and add the clams and mussels. Cook for 4mins until they are all open. Strain and reserve the stock. Discard any clams or mussels that did not open. Strain the stock through muslin until completely clear. Set the cooking liquid aside. Remove most of the clams and mussels from their shells, leaving a few for garnishing the soup at the end, set them to the side.
In a large pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and garlic, sauté until translucent, add the tomatoes and the reserved liquid and bring to the boil, turn to a simmer and cook for 10mins. Add the orzo and the saffron and continue to cook until the orzo is tender. Season well and add the clams, remove from the heat. Add the tomato, parsley and mint.
Ladle the soup into bowls and place 4 clams and 4 mussels still in their shells per portion.
Serve with crusty bread.

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