Casanova’s Soup

Are oysters aphrodisiacs? There is some scientific proof there is but the same proof could be used in disproving as well. The ‘old wives tale’ seems to have either began or increased because of one certain gentleman who was known to have eaten 50 raw oysters for breakfast every morning, Casanova! In his own words,  “I placed the shell on the edge of her lips and after a good deal of laughing, she sucked in the oyster, which she held between her lips. I instantly recovered it by placing my lips on hers.”

Seems as if the allure is more responsible for the….well, allure. Regardless, It seems as though oysters have fallen by the wayside when it comes to the Holidays now. There was a time when they were so inexpensive, and loved, that oyster stuffing was enjoyed on almost every New England table during Christmas, along with goose, fruit cake and homemade mincemeat pie. If I can’t get you folks to try oyster stuffing this year, or any year, at least try this deliciously fragrant bisque that should win you over.
And by the way, how many of you start your meal off with soup? Anyone left out there? Would love to hear from everyone about what they munch on or prepare for appetizers during the Holidays. In the meantime, try…

Golden Oyster Bisque

2(8-oz.) containers cooked oysters, undrained
1(8-oz.)bottle clam juice
1 T. hot water
1/4 t. saffron threads, crushed*
4 T. butter or margarine, divided
1 c. chopped red onion
1 c. minced celery
3 T. flour
3 c. milk, light cream or half-and-half
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste

Drain oysters in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid. Add enough clam juice to the oyster liquid to equal 1 cup, and set aside. Reserve remaining clam juice for another use. Chop oysters in half, or smaller if you wish; set aside. Combine water and saffron in a small bowl; set aside. If using turmeric, read the remainder of the recipe.
Melt 2 t. butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add oyster liquid, saffron water and milk, stirring with a whisk. If using turmeric, add now. Bring up to scalding.
In the meantime, in a microwave safe bowl, melt the remainder of the butter. Remove from microwave and whisk in flour until smooth. Add this roux to the bisque and continue cooking and stirring until thick, about 2-3 minutes. Add oysters, salt and red pepper and remove from heat. Let sit for 3 minutes until the oysters are heated through. Serve.

* You can substitute the same amount of turmeric for saffron if desired.