I love a good fish soup, and one of my favorites is chowder. Depending on what looks best in the market, I usually choose a firm-fleshed fish such as halibut or salmon and call it fish chowder, or add clams and call it (surprise) clam chowder. Either way, I add a smoky component, such as bacon or smoked salmon. The smokiness is crucial to the flavor of the soup. This recipe stays in the shellfish lane and incorporates fresh oysters. The same principle applies in terms of smoky flavor, and chorizo adds the necessary kick to the milky broth. Handfuls of fresh spinach help to lift the soup, adding a dose of veggies to justify the luxurious cream.
Oyster Stew with Chorizo and Spinach
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 oz. (180 g.) chorizo sausage, cut in 1/4-inch slices
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shucked oysters (about 12), liquor drained and reserved
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer the chorizo to a plate lined with a paper towel.
2. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the saucepan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk, cream, and reserved oyster liquor. Bring to a boil and stir in the oysters. Simmer for about 2 minutes, and then add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 more minutes. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.
3. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.