When oysters were cheap, even the poor would toss dozens of them into soups like this, though they may have had to save up for the potato with which to thicken it. Now it’s the other way around. If you’re feeling particularly poor, call it potato and leek chowder instead. Even without the oysters, it has a rich, luxurious taste.
Open oysters and pour off all juices into a small bowl. Remove oysters from shells and set aside. Strain oyster juices through damp, fine muslin and set aside.
Wash leeks carefully, and cut into 1 cm (½ in) lengths. Melt butter in a large pan, add leeks and cook gently until they soften. Peel and slice potatoes, and add to leeks with chicken broth. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer gently until all vegetables are soft. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Blend in a food processor, or force through a fine sieve or food mill.
Return to a clean saucepan and heat. Just before serving, add cream and oyster juices and taste for salt and pepper. Divide oysters among lightly warmed soup bowls, and top with soup.
© 1998 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.