Leontine Callais's Oyster Soup

I thought I knew how to make Oyster Soup until I tasted this dish. It was served to me at the first meeting held by the committee to establish the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University. Betsy Ayo, late wife of Nicholls President Donald Ayo, had her mother and aunt help prepare the meal and this was one of their dishes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.


  • 1/2 gallon oysters
  • 1½ large potatoes (red or white) sliced thin
  • 2 quarts reserved oyster liquid
  • 6 ounces curly Vermicelli #32
  • 1 1/2 pounds salt meat
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • 3 large onions, sliced fine
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Note: Have your seafood supplier shuck ½ gallon of fresh oysters and reserve 2 quarts of oyster liquid for the soup. If oyster liquid is not available, simply purée 1 pint of oysters along with 1½ quarts of cold water to create a similar flavored liquid.

Cut the salt meat into 1" cubes removing the excess fat. Place the salt meat in a 1-quart pot and cover by 3 inches with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and cook until salt meat is tender and falling apart, approximately 45 minutes to an hour. When done, drain and set aside. In a 7-quart dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add sliced onions and garlic and stir fry 2 to 3 minutes being careful not to brown. Add approximately 1 quart of water to the onion mixture and simmer until onions become soft. Do not brown but cook the onions until they turn to a very soft mass. Place salt meat in dutch oven with sliced potatoes and oyster liquid. Return to a low boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are falling apart and acting as a thickening agent in the soup, 30 minutes. More water may be needed to retain volume. When potatoes have been totally cooked apart, add oysters, pasta and parsley. Season to taste using salt and pepper. Cook until pasta is tender and soup is full flavored. Finish with whipping cream and adjust seasonings if necessary.

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