Harvesting oysters is a big business along the Gulf Coast. Eating them is a common aspect of living here as oysters are available year round, every day. The winter months are the best. Oysters seem to be a little sweeter in the cooler months. Remember the old saying, only eat oysters in the months containing an 'r'? Years ago, it rang true due to the lack of refrigeration or ice. Today, the saying should be oysters are better in the months containing an 'r'. That's because in the summer months (no 'r'), oysters are spawning, they are less flavorful and have a softer, watery texture.
Now, who ever came up with the idea to take the signature dish from Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans and make it into a soup, was a pretty clever chef. The earliest reference occurs in the early '80's. This is my recipe. Enjoy!
Oyster Rockefeller Soup
about 8 servings
2 pints shucked oysters with liqueur
1 cup melted butter
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped red onion
1 leek, chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced
8 oz fresh spinach leaves, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup Herbsaint or Pernod
salt, white pepper to taste
Drain oysters reserving the liqueur.
Set aside. In a stockpot, add the butter over medium heat and stir in the celery, onion, leek and garlic. Saute until tender. Stir in the spinach. Add the flour and gently toss blending mixture together. Slowly add the chicken stock a little at a time and then the reserved oyster liqueur. Add the bay leaves and bring to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Stir in the parsley, heavy cream, Herbsaint and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the oysters and cook until the edges begin to curl. Remove from heat and serve warm.
Note: There are so many varying recipes but I think this one is pretty darn good. Add a cup of parmesan cheese when adding the cream for a richer soup. You can also omit the butter and flour by adding the vegetables to the simmering stock but you will need to thicken the soup with about a half cup of cornstarch mixed with a half cup of liquid, like white wine.