Recipe: Oyster Stew

I have no idea why this is called oyster “stew” or even why its so popular here in the Midwest (everyone here knows what it is – EVERYONE). It barely has enough ingredients to warrant being called a soup, let alone a stew. And we are about as far from the coast as you can get, but yet this soup has been eaten every Christmas Eve in my family since the 1950s at least, possibly earlier. Its just what we do. I’ve never questioned what we were eating on December 24 as its been the same thing every year of my life. Oyster Stew is my absolute favorite followed very closely by Potato Soup (the other soup we eat on Christmas Eve). From time to time we also throw in there Clam Chowder, but we NEVER mess with the Oyster Stew.

Since I moved out on my own, and don’t always get to participate in Christmas Eve festivities with my family (like this year) I will make this just for me. I honestly can’t stand having celery in it like so many recipes call for, but if you do add it sliced very, very thin when your cooking the shallot.

Oh and I do call for tinned oysters. Yeah, yeah I know fresh would be better…and it is – I’ve had it! But in this part of the country oysters are incredibly expensive, moreso right now! So I make do, whether I like it or not.

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3 tbsp butter
1 large shallot, sliced very thin
about 16 oz (or 4 tins) of oysters (I used smoked ones this year)
3 cups milk
dash of cayenne pepper


Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the shallot. Simmer until soft but not golden or crispy. Add the oysters, juice and all, and milk . Simmer until warm, but not boiling, over medium heat. Spice with a dash of cayenne (be careful a little goes a very long way) and serve! It does taste funky if it gets too cold so try to serve it immediately.

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