Oyster Chowder with Potatoes, Spinach, and Corn

Oyster Chowder with Potatoes, Spinach, and Corn (Wendy Goodfriend)

"For this thick chowder, I prefer larger oysters (3 or 4 to the pound). I like the chowder made with milk, which I find results in a more delicate and flavorful soup, but half-and-half can be substituted for a richer taste.

"Opening oysters can be tricky, so to make it easier, I place them in a 400-degree oven until they start to open but are still basically raw. At this point, you can easily slide a paring knife inside and cut the adductor muscle to open the oysters. This can be done ahead, even the day before preparing the chowder. The potatoes can also be prepared ahead, and the corn cut off the cob, so the final recipe can be finished in 20 minutes or so." --Jacques Pépin

Recipe: Oyster Chowder with Potatoes, Spinach, and Corn

Serves 6 (Makes About 10 Cups)

  • 1 pound medium potatoes (about 4)
  • Salt
  • 2 dozen large oysters, shucked (3/4 to 1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 8 ounces baby spinach
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups corn kernels (from about 3 ears corn)
  • Crunchy bread, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover them with water, and add a dash of salt. Bring to a boil and boil gently for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
  3. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into 3/4-inch dice. (You should have about 3 cups.)
  4. Meanwhile, arrange the oysters in a single layer on a large baking sheet and place in the oven for 12 minutes. They should open slightly, just enough so that a knife can be slid inside. Let cool for a few minutes, then cut through the adductor muscle to release each oyster from its shell. Put the oysters in a bowl, with their juice, and add any juice that collected on the baking sheet. Shake each oyster in the juice to get rid of any shell pieces and transfer to another bowl. Pour the juice slowly over the oysters, discarding any shell pieces or sand at the bottom of the bowl. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups oyster juice.) Cover and refrigerate.
  5. At serving time, heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and spinach, stir, and cook for about 2 minutes, until the spinach wilts. Add the milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, and potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the oysters, with their juice, and the corn, stir, and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve in large hot soup plates with crunchy bread.

Recipe from Heart & Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 2015 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.