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Mussel Soup
Yield: 4 servings

2 pounds fresh mussels
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, minced
2 small carrots, peeled and minced
2 leeks (white part only), rinsed well and minced
3 1/2 ounces slab bacon, rind removed and minced
3 1/2 ounces side pork (fatback), rind removed and minced
2 cups fish stock or light unsalted chicken stock
3 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut on an angle into 1/2-inch lengths
Freshly ground black pepper

Thoroughly scrub the mussels and rinse with several changes of cold
water. Beard the mussels.

Place the mussels, white wine, and creme fraiche in a large non-
reactive skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook, shaking
the pot, just until the mussels open, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not
overcook, or the mussels will become tough. Remove from the heat
and drain the mussels, reserving the mussels and the cooking liquid
separately. Discard any mussels that do not open. Strain the
cooking liquid through several thicknesses of dampened cheesecloth;
reserve.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion,
carrots, leeks, bacon, and side pork. Stir until coated with the
butter, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to
turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fish stock and cook
until the vegetables are very soft and flavors have had time to
mingle, about 45 minutes.

Stir in the mussel cooking liquid, and cook until heated through,
about 5 more minutes.

Blanch the green beans in a large pot of salted, boiling water,
just until the beans are crisp-tender and bright green, about 4
minutes. Immediately drain the beans and rinse under cold running
water until the beans are cooled throughout. This will help them
retain their crispness and bright green color. Drain thoroughly
and set aside.

Remove the mussel meats from the shells; discard the shells.

About 5 minutes before serving the soup, add the mussels, and cook
just until they are heated through. Evenly divide the soup among
4 shallow soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with equal amounts of the
green beans, shower with a touch of pepper. Serve immediately.

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