Grandma’s Oyster Soup

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Grandma’s Oyster Soup is a traditional Christmas menu item. Grab a sleeve of crackers and dig into this soup featuring oysters in a buttery-milk broth.

Grandma was the kindest, most gentle, tender-hearted, church-going farm wife around. The only time I ever saw her mad was if Dad (or someone else) turned up the heat too high on her oyster stew. That is a huge no-no for Grandma and any other oyster stew-making cook.

Let me repeat that, do not turn up the heat. Do NOT scald the milk. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you again later.

Back to my story.

Every Christmas (that I can remember), Grandma made this old-fashioned oyster stew recipe. It’s synonymous with Christmas dinner.  Even after she passed onto heaven, my Dad (with Mom’s help) has kept the tradition alive.  It’s a known fact in our house, that you do not mess with the temperature of the burners when the oyster soup is brewing.

Low and slow. That’s the name of the game when you’re cooking up cream of oyster soup.  Do not turn up the heat to speed up the warming process and do not scald the milk.

Grandma’s Oyster Soup Recipe:

This is a very basic oyster stew recipe with only butter, milk, oysters (with the liquor), salt and pepper. This allows the oyster flavor to shine through and take center stage.

Much of the oyster flavor comes from the oyster “liquor”.  I’m not sure if this is an accurate term or just one my Mom uses.  In the dictionary of Mom, oyster liquor is the liquid that the oysters come in from the store.  Be sure to follow this process to prevent grit and broken oyster shells in your oyster liquor.

  1. Run the oyster juice through a sieve. Save the oyster juice to add to the cream of oyster stew.
  2. Rinse the oysters in cold water in a colander.

The amount of oysters you use is ultimately up to you.  Grandma lived through the Great Depression, and she never really lost that sense of frugalness.  When Grandma made a pot of oyster soup with milk, she only added one pint of oysters. (She also counted exactly three chocolate chips to be added to each chocolate chip cookie. But that’s a story for another day.)

Dad prefers more oysters in his oyster stew so our Mom usually adds two pints.  Either way you go is just fine.

Oyster Soup with Buttery-Milk Broth

When cooking this soup, just be sure to season, taste, and season again. Without the proper amount of salt and pepper, the oyster broth won’t have enough flavor or pizzazz.  I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon of salt and adding up to 3 teaspoons total.


How long is oyster stew good for?

The FDA recommends eating cooked shellfish within two days (with proper refrigeration). Be sure to refrigerate the oyster stew within two hours after the cooking process has ended.

How do you make oyster stew from scratch?

It’s simple really.  Slowly warm melted butter, whole milk, and clean oysters (with their juices) in a large saucepan.  Once warmed through, season with salt and pepper.  Serve with oyster crackers or saltines.

What do you eat oyster stew with?

Go simple with basic oyster crackers or saltines or serve with homemade yeast rolls. Grandma’s oyster stew is the perfect side dish or appetizer before a larger meal such as brisket or prime rib.

How to Make Oyster Stew with milk:

  1. To remove any dirt or grittiness, put a sieve over a bowl; drain oyster juice and reserve juice.
  2. Rinse oysters gently in a colander to rinse away any shells.
  3. Melt butter in a soup pot or large saucepan over low heat.
  4. Add rinsed oysters and gently warm for a few minutes never taking heat over low.
  5. To the oysters and butter, add whole milk.
  6. Gently warm soup, stirring occasionally until heated through. Do not boil and do not scald milk.
  7. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with crackers.

For the full recipe and ingredient list for basic oyster stew, scroll to the bottom of this post. 

Notes About Grandma’s Oyster Soup:

  • Use whole milk, no exceptions!  You could use 2% milk but for a full, rich, creamy flavor, use whole milk.
  • Use 1 or 2 pints oysters, to your preference.
  • Substitute margarine for butter, if desired.
  • The most important thing to remember is to only heat this soup over low heat. Resist the urge to speed up the process by turning up the heat.
  • This soup will not taste good if it isn’t seasoned properly.  Start with 1 teaspoon salt, and then taste. Go up to 3 teaspoons salt, if desired.

Traditional Christmas Recipes:

Mom’s Poppy Seed Bread

Mom's Poppy Seed Bread is one of those quick breads that is perfect for breakfast, dessert or as an afternoon snack with a hot cup of coffee.

Dainty Logs (shortbread with chocolate chips)

Crock Pot Beef Brisket

This Crock Pot Beef Brisket, which takes minutes to prep, will make you look like a superstar this season when you serve it as part of your holiday menu.

Grandma’s Fantasy Fudge

Cinnamon Glazed Nuts

Ever wanted to make those sweet, crunchy nuts that are a staple at mall kiosks across the country? Look no farther than our Cinnamon Glazed Nuts (pecans)!

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Grandma's Oyster Soup

Grandma's Oyster Soup is a traditional Christmas menu item. Grab a sleeve of crackers and dig into this soup featuring oysters in a buttery-milk broth.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Entree, Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas dinner recipe, christmas oyster stew, cream of oyster soup, Grandma's oyster soup, grandma's oyster stew, how do you make oyster stew from scratch, how long is oyster stew good for, old fashioned oyster stew recipe, oyster soup, oyster soup with milk, oyster stew, traditional christmas recipe, what goes with oyster stew, wht do you eat oysters stew with
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 253kcal
Author: Barbara

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 - 2 pints oysters (with juice)
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1 - 3 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Pour oyster juice through a sieve to remove grit; reserve juice for soup .
  • Rinse oysters in cold water in colander to remove any broken shells.
  • Melt butter in a large sauce pan or soup pot over low heat. Add oysters and gently warm for a few minutes.
  • Add milk and oyster juice. Continue to heat slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • When the broth is warm (not scalded), season slowly with salt and pepper. Taste and continue to season until the milk broth is flavorful.
  • Serve with crackers or oyster crackers.

Notes

  • Use whole milk, no exceptions!  You could use 2% milk but for a full, rich, creamy flavor, use whole milk.
  • Use 1 or 2 pints oysters, to your preference.
  • Substitute margarine for butter, if desired.
  • The most important thing to remember is do only heat over low heat. Resist the urge to speed up the process or to turn up the heat.
  • This soup will not taste good if it isn't seasoned properly.  Start with 1 teaspoon salt, and then taste.   Go up to 3 teaspoons salt, if desired.
  • Love soup? Try Mom's Wild Rice and Broccoli Soup. 

Nutrition

Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 794mg | Potassium: 331mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 738IU | Calcium: 278mg | Iron: 1mg

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3 Comments

  1. Exactly how my 76 year old grandmother used to make it! This is the only recipe I’ve seen online that is made like this. Thanks for sharing!

  2. My mother would use 3 quarts whole milk and 1 qt of half and half. Otherwise the recipe was the same. It was a traditional Christmas Eve supper.

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