Cook the celery in the stock until soft, and meanwhile prepare the mussels by scrubbing, cleaning, rinsing and steaming until they open. Strain the juices into the stock, and when cooked enough to handle, remove the mussels from the shells. Sieve some of the beans to a purée and thus thicken the soup.
Add the rest of the beans and the parsley. Bring to the boil, season with the pepper, and drop in the mussels. Allow them to heat through, and serve the soup.
The addition of herbs such as savory or basil will nicely complement the flavour of the mussels.
Try this variation. Dice some smoked bacon, and fry the celery and some chopped onion with it; then add a couple of peeled, diced potatoes with the stock, and you have a warming chowder, substantial enough for a main course.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.