Oyster Stew

Oyster Stew is a holiday tradition for my family. My mother made it every Christmas Eve, and I make it now. In the south the tradition of seafood during the holidays came about as the people from the coastal areas moved inland. They missed their seafood and arranged to have it brought in for special occasions like the holidays.

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, minced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 pint half and half
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pints fresh, raw, shucked oysters, liquor reserved

Melt butter in an 8 quart stock pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in half and half, milk, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Heat to just under the boiling point when milk is heated through and tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Add oysters and their liquor. Simmer just until the oysters begin to curl on the edges, about 4 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with chopped chives or fresh parsley, and serve with oyster crackers. Serves 8.