This heart-warming oyster stew goes all the way back to my great-great-grandparents, who ran an inn and restaurant in Appleton, Wisconsin. My great-great-grandmother would serve the stew to her guests during the Christmas holiday, and people would come by horse and buggy from miles away to tuck into a bowl of it. Their son Theodore helped in the kitchen, and he made the traditional stew when he eventually had his own family. (See? Theodore is a family name! My great-grandfather lived from 1883-1948.) He shared the recipe with his daughter, my grandmother Germaine, who then passed it on to my mom. And look who has it now!
The recipe I was given calls for Saltine crackers, so I wonder if it has been modernized over the years. (Did they have Saltine crackers in the 1800s? I don’t know!) I’ve adapted it a bit myself to decrease the number of servings (it made a boat-load!), and the addition of parsley is also mine. (I felt like it could use a bit of color.) Although the recipe calls for a Dutch oven, you can definitely make it in a regular soup pot too. I just feel like everything tastes better when made in a Dutch oven! I like to serve this with a side of garlic breadsticks and a big green salad.
If you’re looking for a lovely Christmas Eve meal or are just in the mood for a stew that “warms the cockles of your heart” as my grandmother used to say, you’ll definitely want to give this a try!