Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Oyster and Wild Rice Bisque | December 29, 2008

While I hate cold weather and static electricity and dry skin and itchy sweaters, there is one thing about the winter months that I appreciate.  Oysters!  Whether raw on the halfshell or fried in a po’boy, whether Blue Point or Kumamoto, I love their briny flavor and the wonderful, refreshing way they feel on my tongue.

Naturally, when I saw this recipe, I was dead-set on trying it out.  Not only did it feature oysters, but it was a warm and comforting way to enjoy them.  It’s not a very pretty soup, but it is definitely delicious.  I used big, fat, Gulf oysters this time, and they certainly provided the right flavor, but they were a bit too large for a soup.  Next time, I’ll go for smaller bivalves.  Otherwise, I really wouldn’t change a thing.  Shockingly, this soup was really great left over, especially when sprinkled with a few oyster crackers or saltines for crunch.

Note: Obviously, your end result will be SO much better if you use good quality, fresh oysters and clam juice (rather than canned).  For Atlanta folks, you can definitely get both of those things at the Dekalb Farmers Market.  For others, try Whole Foods, Fresh Market, or your local fishmonger.  If, like me, you’re not confident in your shucking ability, ask someone at the store to do it for you.

  • 1 1/2  bacon slices, chopped
  • 2  cups  chopped onion (about 2 medium)
  • 2  cups  shucked oysters, undrained
  • 1  cup  clam juice
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 1 1/2  cups  cooked wild rice
  • 1 1/4  cups  whole milk
  • 3  tablespoons  half-and-half
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Cook bacon in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat 6 minutes or until crisp. Stir in onion; cover and cook 8 minutes or until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally.

Strain oysters through a sieve over a bowl. Reserve oysters; add oyster liquid to pan. Combine clam juice and flour in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add clam juice mixture, broth, and bay leaf to pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Bring mixture to a boil; cook until reduced to 2 cups (about 6 minutes).

Reduce heat to low. Discard bay leaf. Stir in rice, milk, half-and-half, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in reserved oysters; cook 5 minutes or until edges of oysters curl. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.




  1. This recipe looks delightful and reminds me of a winter soup that I had a St. Michael’s Bistro one year.

    Comment by restaurantrefugee — December 29, 2008 @ 8:20 pm

  2. Thanks, it did turn out well. And where is this Bistro?

    Comment by bettyjoan — December 30, 2008 @ 7:46 pm

  3. That sounds pretty damn good.

    Comment by Barzelay — December 31, 2008 @ 12:37 am

  4. Thanks, Barzelay, it was good. Though I guess it was more of a chowder than a traditional bisque.

    Comment by bettyjoan — December 31, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

  5. St. Michael’s, Maryland – out on the eastern shore. It is a charming town of B&B’s, bistros, antique shops, and lovely sailboats (I heart any city that prefers sailboats to the meathead power boats.)

    Comment by restaurantrefugee — December 31, 2008 @ 6:28 pm

  6. Ah, good to know. I also enjoy sailboats better than power boats, but anything that gets me on the water is fine in my book.

    Comment by bettyjoan — December 31, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

  7. Chowder vs. bisque? I prefer very loose and flexible definitions of culinary terms in menus, and very rigid and specific ones in recipes. So when you’re presenting your soup, you can call it a bisque, chowder, soup, or whatever, and it’s fine by me. And if you want to deconstruct it, and serve each of the ingredients dehydrated and powdered, layered in a cup, you can still call it a chowder if you want.

    Comment by Barzelay — December 31, 2008 @ 11:44 pm

  8. I guess I meant that it evoked more of a chowder feel than a bisque. When I think bisque, I think of lobster and your butternut squash versions, which are silky smooth. This was more chunky, like what I think of when I recall a really good New England clam chowder.

    Comment by bettyjoan — December 31, 2008 @ 11:47 pm

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