Butter Bean Soup or Lima Bean and Champagne Soup


From New Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree, The University of Georgia Press

1 pound dried butter beans or limas
Ham bone, ham, or salt pork
3 celery stalks with leaves
1 large carrot
1 large or 2 medium onions
4 medium potatoes
1 large bay leaf
8 peppercorns
8 whole cloves
Salt to taste
1 bottle champagne, or to taste

Chopped ham (optional)
Fresh parsley, finely chopped

1. Rinse the beans, and place in a large bowl. Cover with cold water by 2 inches, and soak overnight. If you are short of time, use the quick method as directed on the package.

2. To prepare the broth, combine 3 quarts of water with the remaining ingredients (except champagne and parsley), and simmer, covered, about 1 hour. Strain the broth, and skim off any grease that may have risen to the top. Set aside the potatoes and any lean meat, discarding the bones and other vegetables. Mash the potatoes coarse. Drain the beans, and add to the broth. Simmer until the beans are very tender, about 1 to 2 hours. Add the potatoes, and bruise the beans well with a potato masher until the soup is thick. Chop the meat, and add some of it to the soup. Correct the seasoning.

3. Before serving, add 1/2 to 3/4 of the bottle of champagne to the hot soup, and stir to blend over medium heat. Serve with a garnish of the remaining chopped ham, if desired, and parsley, adding a few tablespoons of champagne to each soup bowl at the table as it is served. It causes an immediate fizzle and brings exclamations of joy and praise.