Spicy Mussel Stew with Tomatoes and Basil
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, fresh or good-quality canned, like Muir Glen
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
2 teaspoons fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
6 slices coarse textured bread, toasted or grilled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Increase the heat to high, add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt and pepper, and simmer until 20 minutes.
In the meantime, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the mussels, cover and cook, shaking the pan frequently until the mussels open, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the mussels with tongs as they open. When all of the mussels are open, increase the heat to high. Immediately add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and reserve. Remove the shells from half of the mussels. Combine the mussels (shelled and unshelled) , white wine reduction, capers, basil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, toast or grill the bread. Rub with garlic and brush with the remaining tablespoon olive oil. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with bread.