- 8 ounces stale country bread, broken up into 3/4 inch chunks
- 6 tablespoons fruity olive oil
- Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups white wine
- 2 pounds small clams (about 40), well scrubbed
- 2 pounds mussels (about 40), well scrubbed
- 4 cups clam juice or fish stock
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves only
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 pound large shrimp (about 18), shelled, deveined, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 6 free range eggs (optional), lightly beaten
- Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, toss the bread cubes with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and toast until golden, watching carefully. Set aside.
In a large saucepan or stockpot, combine the wine and the clams. Cover the pan and, over medium high heat, cook the clams, shaking the pan occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Remove the clams to a bowl with a slotted spoon, discarding any that have not opened. Add the mussels and cook in the same way, again discarding any that do not open. Transfer the mussels to the bowl with the clams, and remove all the meat from the shells. Set the shellfish aside. Discard the shells and add the liquor from the bowl back into the pan with the wine. Strain the cooking water through a fine strainer lined with cheesecloth, return it to a clean pan, and add the clam juice.
Meanwhile, in a mortar and pestle or a food processor, process the cilantro, garlic, and 3/4 teaspoons salt to a paste. Transfer the mixture to a large, heated serving tureen with a lid and stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Bring the wine and clam juice mixture back to a simmer and add the cooked shellfish and the raw shrimp. Simmer for 3 minutes, add the bread chunks and stir for 2 minutes more, or until the soup is very hot. Drizzle the egg mixture over the top, stirring slowly in a circle. Immediately pour the simmering mixture into the tureen, stir to mix, and ladle the soup into heated bowls at the table. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.