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Garden Chef Recipes

Trained in Paris, Chef Charlie Socher’s head chef position in the Chicago area was at The Chardonnay, where he earned a 3½-star rating from the Chicago Tribune. Charlie opened Café Matou in Chicago in 1997, and there he serves such delicacies as the recipe below, for mussels in a vegetable broth that can be made from locally grown peppers, scallions, herbs, and tomatoes.

Mussels in a Summer Vegetable-Fine Herb Broth


2 lbs. mussels

2 lbs. tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and chopped

2 sweet peppers, seeded, and chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 scallions, sliced cross-wise

¼ teaspoon saffron (optional)

2 ounces extra virgin olive oil

2 ounces small pasta, e.g., orzo, anelli, cooked according to instructions

8 oz. dry white wine

8 oz. stock (fish, chicken, or vegetable)

4 oz. fresh herbs, e.g., basil, thyme, oregano, dill, tarragon, mint, parsley

4 oz. parmesan, grated


Heat oil in large sauce pan; add scallions and garlic; cook for 1 minute at medium high

Add peppers; cook for 1 minute at medium high heat.

Add tomatoes and saffron; cook for 1 minute at medium high heat.

Add stock and wine; bring to a boil, uncovered.

Add mussels; cover and cook on medium high to high heat until mussels open.

Add pasta and chopped herbs.

Toss lightly to combine.

Serve in bowls with parmesan on the side.