The cold winter months are the best time for oysters in my opinion and this Oyster Soup recipe from Sweet Daddy D is a perfect way to enjoy them. The recipe starts with a cream base and adds the super flavor of plump, fresh oysters along with their intoxicating oyster liquor and subtle Herbs and Spices. Commonly referred to as Oyster Stew, this slightly thick and very creamy soup will warm your soul and impress your guests.
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Oysters in South Louisiana Cuisine
Oysters have been plentiful in the brackish coastal waters of South Louisiana since before settlers came from Europe and the Caribbean. Here, where we are blessed with a bountiful assortment of both fresh and saltwater seafood, the oyster reigns supreme. Oysters were part of the Native American diet but gained tremendous popularity as European settlers combined their techniques with a growing supply of the fresh and new ingredients found in Louisiana. Over the centuries, the oyster has become its own industry. The abundance and popularity of oysters cross all sections of Creole and Cajun cuisines and produce countless recipes. It's common to see oysters smoked, stewed, fried, used in stuffings and dressings, broiled and baked, only to name a few, and that doesn't even mention raw oysters, which are perhaps the most popular way of presenting them. Oysters along with their liquor, when used in a soup or stew, is perhaps the most regal way to prepare them. Try this recipe, you'll see why oysters are the fad that has lasted for centuries.
Here’s What You Need
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Dutch oven, cutting board, measuring cups, glass measuring cups, measuring spoons, prep bowls-cambro, prep bowls-glass, whisk, chef’s knife, butcher twine
Here’s What You Do
First...you have a beer. Prepare the cook, prepare the ingredients. That starts by fully understanding the recipe. So, get a beer and sit down and read the recipe all the way through while you drink it. Know what ingredients and equipment you need, see how to prep them and then learn what you’re going to do with all of it. It’s a simple process if you are prepared. The oysters and their juice will be started separately in one Dutch oven with some fresh herbs. Then you will build a cream-based soup in another Dutch oven and add the oyster goodness to that when it’s time.
Prepare the ingredients
Start by making a bouquet garni by taking one or two sprigs of fresh thyme, a few fresh sage leaves and a bay leaf, then tie them together with some butcher twine. Set that aside. Finely chop the leek (white part only), green onions (white and green parts) and the celery and place them all in the same prep bowl. Finely chop the garlic and roughly chop the parsley and place those in two separate prep bowls. Measure all the other ingredients and set aside.
- You will warm the whole milk in the microwave or a saucepan prior to adding it to the Dutch oven.
- Check out the Hints and Tips section below on cleaning the leeks.
Prepare the oysters
Add the oysters and their juice to a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bouquet garni and bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat to a heavy simmer.
After 3 minutes remove the oysters with a slotted spoon (they will be curly) and set them aside. Continue to simmer the oyster juice and bouquet garni for 5 more minutes, then remove from the heat until needed. You can discard the bouquet garni or transfer it to the soup.
NOTE: We will want 3 cups of oyster juice in all so if there isn’t enough just add some water to make up the difference.
Make the soup-base
Place another Dutch oven over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Add the green onions, celery, and leeks to the butter, sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. The vegetables should be starting to soften.
Add the garlic and creole seasoning and continue to stir until the garlic is aromatic. This will take another 2 or 3 minutes.
Add the flour and stir constantly to make a light roux. You may want to use a whisk. Since the vegetables were added before the flour, this won’t look like a traditional oil/flour roux but the flour will coat all of the onions and celery and create a nice layer of flavor. Keep stirring or whisking while the flour taste cooks out, which will be about 3 minutes.
Add the parsley, kosher salt and ground black pepper. Stir to completely combine all the ingredients.
Warm the milk in the microwave or in a saucepan. Increase the heat under the Dutch oven, then add the milk slowly, whisking or stirring constantly as you do.
Continue to whisk or stir constantly until a smooth, thick base forms with no lumps.
Gradually add the heavy cream into the roux mixture.
Bring the mixture to a heavy simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring or whisking constantly.
Add 3 cups of oyster liquid (add water to make 3 cups if you don’t have enough).
Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a heavy simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, while the soup thickens.
Add the oysters and finish
Add the oysters and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes. Oysters cook quickly so, for best results, you don't want to go much longer than that.
Add a few to several dashes of Tabasco hot sauce (depending on your taste). Stir well and taste for seasoning. Add kosher salt and black pepper and Tabasco hot sauce, if needed. Serve immediately with some parsley flakes sprinkled on top and some nice, crispy french bread.
Hints and Tips
I highly recommend using whole milk to get all the flavors of the milk fat. You can use 2% milk if you would like, but I don’t recommend non-fat milk. Warm the milk before you add it to the roux mixture as that will help avoid lumps. Whisk or stir constantly as you slowly add the milk. Once it has all been added and you have a smooth base, you can add the heavy cream cold.
Leeks can sometimes have some dirt or grit stuck between it's layers. A leek is like a bunch of tubes layered on top of each other so if you slice them crossways you will get small rings. The grit can hide between those rings. There are a few ways to clean them, but this one works for me: slice out the white section you want to use. Pull off any discolored or dried outer layers and discard. Make a slice lengthwise to cut the leek in half, then repeat that with each half so you end up with 4 long quarters. Hold each quarter under running cold water and manipulate the layers so the water rinses out any grit. Place the cleaned leek on some paper towels to drain.
You can refrigerate leftover Oyster Soup for about 3 to 4 days as long as you use an airtight container. Let the soup cool off before refrigerating. Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat until completely warmed through. If the milk, cream and butter start to separate, stir or whisk vigorously until it is repaired.
I don’t recommend freezing leftover Oyster Soup, but it can be done. Actually, I’ve never really had enough leftover to worry about it. The problem with freezing Oyster Soup is that the solids in the butter/milk/cream may separate from the liquid and the oysters may lose a little of their texture and flavor. But like I said, it can be done with no problem and the soup should maintain good quality for up to 3 months if stored in an airtight container. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator, then warm slowly in a saucepan. If there is a lot of separation, pull the oysters out of the soup with a slotted spoon. Vigorously whisk the soup while it is heating up, then put the oysters back in and let them warm through. If you think it needs it, you can whisk in a small amount of warm milk.
While there is nothing wrong with warmed-up Oyster Soup, this dish is at its peak flavor right when it’s finished cooking. Adding the oysters at the end (after a quick 3-minute simmer in the liquor) will keep the oysters at their optimal best. If you can’t eat it right away, it will still be awesome but its best served immediately.
This is a very rich soup and is good enough to carry the entire meal. But it also makes a very special appetizer course and a terrific way to start things off. If you are served Oyster Soup as an appetizer, you know you are in for a special meal.
It’s almost mandatory that you have crispy french bread with Oyster Soup. You could also serve some saltine crackers with it. If this is the main course, a nice Sensation Salad is perfect alongside.
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Here's What You Need
- 2 pints oysters
- 3 cups oyster liquor (juice) add cold water to make 3 cups if necessary
- 1 bundle fresh herbs a bouquet garni of thyme, sage and bay leaf
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 bunch green onions chopped fine about 1 cup
- 1 stalk celery chopped fine about 3 tablespoons
- 1 cup leeks white part only, about 1 leek
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 2 tablespoons garlic chopped fine 3 cloves
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cayenne pepper optional
- Tabasco sauce to taste
Here's What You Do
For the oysters
- In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the oysters with their liquor.
- Add a bouquet garni consisting of fresh thyme, sage and bay leaves.
- Bring this to a boil for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to a slight simmer for about 2 minutes. The oysters will start to curl.
- Remove the oysters with a slotted spoon and set aside. Make sure to capture any liquor that comes off the oysters.
- Continue to simmer the oyster liquor and herbs for another 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the soup base
- Melt the butter in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add the green onions, celery, and leeks.
- Stir well and saute for about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and creole seasoning, mix well.
- Saute for about 2 more minutes until aromatic.
- Add the flour and stir constantly to make a light roux, about 3 minutes.
- Add the parsley and stir to completely combine all the ingredients.
- Warm the milk, then add it gradually into the roux mixture. Make sure there are no lumps.
- Gradually add the heavy cream to the cream base. Make sure a smooth sauce forms with no lumps.
- Increase heat and simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring or whisking constantly.
- Add 3 cups of oyster liquid (add water to make 3 cups if you don’t have enough).
- Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a heavy simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, while the soup thickens.
Add oysters and serve
- Add the oysters plus any liquid that has accumulated with them and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Season with kosher salt, black pepper and Tabasco hot sauce.
- Serve immediately.
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