Oyster-Artichoke Soup

Serves 4. Recipe is from “New Orleans Home Cooking” by Dale Curry. She says, “Could there be a better combination than oysters and artichokes? Not in my book. It is said to have originated in the kitchen of the late Warren LeRuth, who gifted the Westbank of New Orleans with gourmet dining. His oyster-artichoke soup has been copied by almost every chef who has ever cooked in New Orleans and a lot of home cooks, too. Talk about easy. Try the following version for a gourmet meal in less than an hour.”

3 dozen oysters and their water

½ stick butter

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (9-oz.) pkg. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and coarsely chopped

2 tbls. flour

2 (14.5-oz.) cans chicken broth

Salt, if needed, freshly ground black pepper, and Creole seasoning to taste

Pinch of dried thyme

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Shot of Tabasco

1 cup half-and-half

Chopped fresh parsley, optional

1. Pick over oysters to remove any shell. Separate them from their water, saving the water.

2. In a medium-sized heavy pot, melt butter and sauté onions, celery and garlic until soft. Add artichoke hearts and sauté a minute more. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add chicken broth and reserved oyster water, stirring and then seasonings, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Do not add salt until after the oysters are added because you may not need any, depending on how salty the oysters are.

3. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Add oysters and simmer for a few minutes until oysters curl.

4. Stir in half-and-half and heat gently when ready to serve.

5. Serve with a little chopped parsley on top of each portion, if desired.