The classic French version is a soup of mussels with saffron and cream in which the mussels are strained out and served separately, but the country version, Billi Bi Mussels, is heartier and more fun.


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 6 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 pinches of saffron
  • 4 quarts mussels in their shells, scrubbed (4 to 6 pounds)
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallots, onion, garlic, and saffron and cook, stirring, or until the onion is limp and the garlic is a bit fragrant, about 3 minutes
  2. Add the mussels, wine, parsley, and Tabasco. Cover and cook until the mussels pop open, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve in bowls, discarding any mussels that didn’t open