Oyster, Brie & Champagne Soup
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3 dozen small to medium oysters in their liquor, about 18 ounces
4 cups cold water
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne red pepper
1 pound fresh brie cheese, cut in small wedges, with rind on
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup champagne
Combine oysters and water; stir and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Strain and reserve the oysters and oyster water; refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and beat with a metal whisk until smooth. Add the onions and celery and saute about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the peppers and salt and saute about 2 minutes more. Set aside.
In a 4-quart saucepan, bring the oyster water to a boil Stir in the sauteed vegetable mixture until well mixed. Correct seasonings if necessary. Turn heat to high. Add cheese; cook until cheese starts to melt, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat, strain soup and return to pot. Turn heat to high and cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the cream; cook until close to a boil, about 2 minutes. Stir in champagne. Turn off heat and add the oysters. Let pan sit about 3 minutes to plump the oysters. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.
John Decker and Herb Huff of All Kinds of People Restaurant, 1806 2nd Ave., Rock Island