A Classic Seafood Soup
By Andrew Zimmern
Growing up in NYC and spending summers at sleep-away camp in Maine, I was exposed to many styles of this classic seafood soup. I think this version is unmatched—a beautiful marriage of intense brininess with decadent creaminess. It’s a comfort food dinner that your whole family will love, but also perfect for fall and winter parties where I like to serve it out of coffee mugs when guests come in the door. The key ingredient, of course, is fresh Maine oysters. Be sure to save the oyster liquor to fortify the broth.
- 64 ounces fresh shucked oysters, with their liquor
- 3 tablespoons minced bacon
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 1 cup sliced yellow onion
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, rosemary and tarragon tied together in a bouquet garni
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups fresh fish stock or clam juice
- 1 quart heavy cream
- Chives, hot sauce, buttered toast and/or saltines, for serving
Strain the oysters through a sieve set over a bowl to catch the liquid. Reserve the liquid.
Place a large pot over medium high heat. Add the bacon, and allow to cook for a few minutes to render some fat. Add all the Old Bay seasoning, celery, onion, paprika, tomato paste, and bouquet garni. Cook, being careful not to scorch the ingredients. When onions are glassy, add the reserved oyster liquid and stock (or clam juice). Bring to a slow boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the cream. Cook, simmering for another 7-10 minutes, until cream thickens. Add the oysters and cook until liquids return to a slow boil.
Season with the Worcestershire sauce to taste, add some freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste, and serve with plenty of buttered toast, chives and hot sauce.