I put out a call for recipe guest posts and was delighted when my friend Frank answered the call. He has shared some of his recipes with me in the past and as a New Orleans native you just know they are good! I’m a huge fan of soup so I was happy that he chose to share this one. We don’t have access to fresh oysters here in my neck of the woods but I’m going to be in the city next week so I’m hoping to at least find some in a glass jar as he mentions for a substitute.
By Frank Maier
This is a new-ish New Orleans favorite. My momma used to make us oyster soup fairly often when I was growing up but it was chef Warren Leruth who invented this variant for the famous LeRuth’s restaurant calling it “potage LeRuth.” His recipe was for a commercial operation; this is my home variant. Any recipe that starts with a pound of butter hasta be good, huh?
- 1 lb. butter
- 1 cup flour
- 2 bunches green onions - chopped
- ½ of a whole garlic – chopped fine
- 1 qt. heavy cream
- (some) chicken stock
- (some) sherry or similar (I use Courvoisier VSOP)
- 1 pt. (more, if you like oysters as much as I do) oysters, hopefully with their liquor – use the smallest oysters you can get. If they’re medium-sized or bigger, cut ‘em into smaller piece. If you have small ones, use ‘em whole. Fresh is best. The kind from a glass jar at the grocery is a possibility if you’re not in a place where you can get fresh oysters. Naturally, the original recipe calls for Gulf (of Mexico) oysters, substitute as necessary.
- 1-1/2 pounds fresh-cut artichoke hearts. Substitute 2 9-oz. packages frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted and quartered or 2 (10 oz) jars of artichoke hearts, washed, drained, and quartered. Save using canned hearts as a last resort, of course.
- (a few) Bay leaves
- salt, pepper (I like to use white pepper for this dish), cayenne – to taste
- parsley – chopped
- crackers, French bread, etc. – server’s choice
- Put butter and flour in a (I use cast iron) pot and make a blonde roux. A dark roux is too strong and overpowers the delicate oyster flavor. Add the green onion and garlic and sauté a few minutes. Add the cream, some chicken stock (I don’t use a lot.), and some sherry (Courvoisier VSOP). Add Bay leaves. Bring back to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add oysters and oyster liquor and the artichoke hearts. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add spices to taste and correct liquid with chicken stock to desired thickness. Maybe a little more sherry (Courvoisier)? Remove Bay leaves. You’re done.
- Put some fresh parsley on each bowl as you serve it. Serve with your choice of crackers, toast, French bread, whatever. We always used Leidenheimer’s French bread which is, sadly, unavailable outside of New Orleans.