One weekend we stopped in to visit my sister-in-law while her hubby was cooking up a pot of oyster stew. I had a serious flashback to childhood - of oysters. Since my mother was part of such a large family (she's one of eight), their side of the family did a soup dinner a few weeks before Thanksgiving. It was vegetable soup, chili and oyster stew. As a child I tried oysters, but couldn't get past the thought of slimy little snot balls.
Over the years I've deducted that in the Midwest, raw oysters only seem to be available during the holiday season. I've looked and could've missed them previously, but when I noticed them at the grocery store lately, it got me to thinking of trying oyster soup myself. This would prove to be a bold new adventure.
I envisioned a milk-based, buttery soup with tender bits of oysters floating between crackers. What I got was a gritty, clumpy white soup that smelled a little fishy. The problem had to be either - 1) I didn't incorporate the flour into the milk well enough and/or 2) the milk got too hot and came to a boil thereby separating into something that resembled the beginnings of cottage cheese.
Since my ability to replicate oyster soup is in question, I went back to the source, my brother-in-law. This oyster soup is based on an old recipe found in a Junior League cookbook and is well worth the adventure.
Recipe courtesy of Phil Hofman
3 T. butter
3/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 T. flour
2 cups milk
2 cups Half and Half
1 pint oysters
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
Over medium heat, melt butter and cook celery and onion until tender. Shake in flour, stirring constantly.
Pour in a little milk and stir until smooth, then slowly add reminder milk and Half and Half.
Add dry seasonings and cook until boiling point is reached. Add oysters.
Serve as soon as oysters are thoroughly hot and plump. Serves 4-6.
[Adapted this from a recipe in the Charleston Receipts Cookbook (America's oldest Junior League cookbook in print); the original recipe is from a Mrs. Louis T. Parker (Josephine Walker] The history of this cookbook was interesting and worth the read.