Serves 4 to 6. Recipe by CJ Gerdes, of Casamento’s Restaurant, is from “New Orleans Classic Creole Recipes” by Kit Wohl (Pelican Publishing 2014).
31/2 cups water
2 dozen freshly shucked Gulf oysters, drained
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
1/2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1?8 tsp. dried thyme
1?8 tsp. ground red pepper
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1. In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add the oysters and cook for 3 minutes. Remove oysters with a slotted spoon and reserve 3 cups of liquid.
2. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook celery and onions in 1 tablespoon of butter, stirring constantly until tender. Stir in 21/2 cups of the reserved liquid, garlic, thyme, red pepper and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Stir in the cream. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and return to a simmer. Once the milk is added, never heat the soup past a simmer.
3. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, then cook for about 3 more minutes until smooth (the mixture will be very thick).
4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the saucepan, stirring with a wire whisk until blended. Add the oysters, salt and white pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf and serve immediately.