Makes 4-6 servings. Recipe is from Katy Casbarian, Arnaud’s Restaurant, New Orleans.
Creamy oyster stew/soup was extremely popular from before the Civil War through the early 1900s. Some historians believe Native Americans created the dish, while others believe it came to the New World with Irish immigrants.
3½ cups water
2 dozen oysters, drained
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped green onions
1 tbl. plus ¼ cup unsalted butter
½ tsp. finely chopped garlic
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
1 bay leaf
¾ cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add oysters and cook 3 minutes. Remove oysters with a slotted spoon and reserve 3 cups of liquid. Set both aside.
2. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook celery, green onions and onions in 1 tablespoon butter, stirring constantly until tender. Stir in 2½ cups of the reserved liquid, garlic, thyme, red pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Stir in the cream, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and return to a simmer.
3. Melt the remaining ¼ cup butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the flour,stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, then cook gently for about 3 minutes more or until smooth (mixture will be very thick).
4. Gradually add the flour mixture to milk mixture, stirring with a wire whisk until blended. Add oysters, salt, and white pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated. Remove from the heat, discard bay leaf and serve immediately.