Oyster and Artichoke Soup

This is one of the great soups of New Orleans. The original version was the gift of the late Chef Warren LeRuth and is now a staple on nearly every restaurant menu in the city.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup butter
2 bunches green onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 3/4 pounds fresh cut artichoke hearts (or 3 9-ounce packages frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted and quartered)
3 tablespoons flour
1 to 1 1/2 quarts homemade chicken stock
Cayenne to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 quart oysters, drained and chopped (reserve liquor)
1/3 cup sherry
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup milk

METHOD:

In a heavy 4-quart pot heat the butter over medium heat. Add the green onion, celery, and garlic and sauté until soft.

Add the artichokes hearts. Sprinkle the mixture with the flour and stir to coat the vegetables well, but do not let the flour brown.

Gradually add the stock, stirring constantly. Add the cayenne, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Simmer the mixture, covered, for 1 hour.

Add the oysters, oyster liquor, and sherry and simmer for 10 minutes. Do not allow the soup to boil. Stir in the cream and milk.

Cool and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Before serving, heat the soup slowly over low heat.

YIELD: 8 servings

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