Giani Respinto’s oyster soup is made for lovers.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

According to mythology Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty, sprang from an oyster shell. And aphrodisiacs are named for her. So if you are cooking for your Valentine, it can’t hurt to include some oysters as an aphrodisiac. Oysters also have a lot of zinc and iron. Zinc deficiencies affect male fertility, and iron deficiency makes one tired. GianMarco’s Giani Respinto does not skimp on the oysters in this sexy dish.

½ Cup diced celery
½ Cup diced onion
½ Cup diced green pepper
½ Cup smoked bacon
2 Cups diced potatoes
1 Tablespoon fresh, minced thyme
3 Tablespoons grape seed or any neutral oil
¼ Cup flour
1 Quart heavy cream
32 Oysters and their liquid
2 Cups organic shrimp stock

First add bacon to cooking pot with a little oil to release bacon fat. Once it starts cooking, add the trilogy (peppers, onions, celery). Allow to cook, and add freshly chopped thyme. Bring to a simmer. After simmering, add flour. Use just enough flour to coat the vegetables and bacon. Do not add too much flour, or it will become gelatinous. Let the flour cook for a couple minutes to cover the vegetables. Add one to two cups of cold organic shrimp stock. Whisk together with vegetables and bacon so it is silky and smooth with no clumps. Add a little more stock and continue to stir constantly. Add a quart of cream. Continue to stir together for two to three minutes. Add in blanched potatoes (optional). Cook for several (about 5) minutes, stirring constantly. Add chopped kale and stir in for a couple of minutes. Add more stock if needed (about a half a cup). Add oyster liquor to the soup mixture and stir. Season with course sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste. For a zesty flavor, add cayenne pepper. Add oysters at the last minute to prevent them from being rubbery. In a separate pan, take the amount of soup you want to serve and add the oysters. Watch the oysters cook until the plump up. Do not over cook or they will be tough. About a minute or so. Add to serving dish, and the soup is ready to serve.

Published B-Metro magazine, February 2014