Sopa De Fideo with Mussels and Aïoli

Serves 4 as a main course

Sopa De Fideo with Mussels and Aïoli

Pasta takes on a wonderful toasty flavor when roasted in the oven or gently sautéed before cooking. Sardinian fregola, a small, round semolina pasta similar to Israeli couscous, is sold already toasted in Italian markets and specialty stores—and it's most often cooked with clams. Toasted pasta is popular in the Middle East, and sopa de fideo, toasted vermicelli soup, is found throughout Spain, Mexico, and Cuba in many variations.

Mix seafood and meat together in this dish as you would for paella, or mix fish and shellfish to turn it into a sopa de mariscos. Stir in a spoonful of Aïoli at the end for a delicious finish if you like, but it isn't needed. Cappellini, angel hair, spaghettini, or vermicelli pasta broken into 1-inch pieces all work well for this dish. Serve with green beans or summer squash cooked with tomatoes and basil.

  • 3 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces spaghettini or other thin pasta, broken into 1-to 2-inch lengths
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Aïoli (recipe follows)

1. Cook the mussels and make a mussel stock as per the directions for Quick Mussel Stock (page 28 of the book), using 3 pounds of mussels and 4 cups of water rather than the 2 pounds of mussels and 2 cups of water called for in the stock recipe. After adding the mussels, cook them just until the shells open so they do not overcook. Strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve and season. Remove most of the mussels from their shells and reserve; leave a few in the shell for garnish.

2. In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the pasta and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add the mussel stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the pasta is just al dente, about 10 minutes. Nestle the reserved mussels in the pasta, stir in the parsley, and heat through. There should be a bit of liquid left in the pan; add a little water if the pasta is too dry. Serve with Aïoli alongside to stir in at the table.



Makes 1 cup

A traditional aïoli is made with just olive oil but if you wish to lighten the flavor you may substitute refined peanut oil for half the olive oil in this recipe. Note that all the ingredients should be at room temperature.

  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon warm water, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Using a mortar and pestle, combine the garlic and the 1/4 teaspoon salt and grind to a smooth paste. You may continue using the mortar and pestle in the traditional manner or transfer the garlic paste to a bowl or food processor. Add the egg yolk and 1 teaspoon water and whisk or process until smooth. While whisking constantly, or with the machine running, slowly pour in the oil. Start with just a few drops at a time and, as the sauce begins to thicken, add the rest of the oil in a slow, fine stream. If the aïoli becomes too thick, thin with a bit of warm water. Stir in the lemon juice and salt to taste. Use now, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

  • from:
  • Fish Forever
  • The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing
    Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood
  • by Paul Johnson
  • Wiley 2007
  • Hardcover; 438 pages; US $34.95
  • ISBN 978-0-7645-8779-5 (076458779X)
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

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This page created August 2007

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