Many years ago, I was lucky enough to visit New Orleans. I've actually been there three times. But, somehow a car full of college kids traveling down there to see what Mardi Gras was all about and much later in life a Kiwanis convention, just don't count the same way that staying in the French Quarter and really gettting to inhale the culture does. Barbecue shrimp was the dish that stole my heart. Then, there are muffalettas, beignets and oyster artichoke heart soup. I've hunted and hunted for a recipe for that soup. I found one years ago and promptly made it. It was very disappointing. When my friend Drick posted one on his blog (Drick's Rambling Cafe) I knew I had to try it.
Our New Year's Eve tradition is a seafood fest. The year we met, we discovered that both of us prefer a quiet evening at home to a night out on the town. I asked Connie what he'd like for dinner and he said seafood. Seafood it was. That first NYE we had crabcakes, bacon wrapped scallops, she crab soup, lobster, oysters rockefeller, escargot. You get the idea. A surfeit of seafood. We ate leftovers for about a week.
This year I wanted to do a trial run of four appetizers to see if they should be added to the party menu. The entree was to be seafood newburg. And, we were going to make mussels at home for the first time. What better time to try Drick's soup? I'm going to give you his recipe with the servings for 8-10. Needless to say, we cut this way down and still had some leftovers for lunch the next day.
What did we think? Words cannot do this soup justice. It is magnificent. The flavors are perfectly balanced. It's not too heavy and not too light. It's now the 3rd of January and I can still taste it in my mind. Thank you, Drick! I've finally been able to have a soup I've thought fondly of for about 20 years! Now, just a word about Drick. We've tried many of his recipes and they've all been great. One even made our favorites list for 2010. Please wander over to his blog and spend some time looking at his wonderful recipes.
Drick's Oyster and Artichoke Heart Soup
1 c butter
1 c celery
1 c onion
1/2 green bell pepper
3 T garlic
1 c flour
1/2 c tasso (I used salami since that's what we had)
2 t Cajun seasoning
6 c chicken stock
4 c oyster liqueur (clam juice can make up the difference)
1 t hot sauce
4-6 dozen medium to small shucked oysters
14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 c parsley
1/2 c green onions
2 c heavy cream
Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan. Finely chop the celery, bell pepper and onion. Add them to the butter and saute them until they're softened.
Add the flour and tasso ham or salami (very finely minced) and allow it to cook for about 10 minutes. You don't want the flour to brown.
Slowly add the chicken broth. The mixture will be very thick. Now, slowly add the oyster liqueur. We didn't have the full amount we needed so I substituted clam juice for about 3/4 of this liquid.
Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the parsley, green onion, oysters and cream. Let the soup simmer for another 20 minutes.
adapted from Drick's Rambling Cafe