This might be the world's easiest oyster stew. Everything is dumped into one pot and cooked until hot. It is so quick to make because nothing has to be chopped or sautéed. An appealing crunch comes from the oyster crackers put on top just before serving.
While this is really a soup, it is traditionally called oyster stew.
- Combine all ingredients, except oyster crackers, paprika, and hot sauce in a large saucepan and, stirring often, bring almost to a boil—don't allow to actually boil or liquid may curdle.*
- Immediately reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Serve topped with oyster crackers and a sprinkling of paprika. Have hot sauce available for those who want a bit more spice.
*It is not a problem if the liquid curdles—it will not affect the taste of the stew.
It's just not quite at attractive as it is if the liquid isn't curdled. The reason for curdling is due to enzymes in the fresh oysters that can cause a chemical reaction which allows the proteins to coagulate, thus causing curdling. Not allowing the liquid to boil, keeping it at a low temperature while cooking, and stirring often will help prevent curdling.
*Oysters are available in the refrigerator section of the seafood area of the market. They usually come in either 10-ounce jars or a 32-ounce jar. Either 30 or 32-ounces of oysters are fine. While not fresh-from-the-sea, these oysters are, relatively speaking, fresh, and have an expiration date which you should check before purchasing them.
If you are shucking your own oysters, you will need about 48 to 60 oysters for 2 pints. Of course, fresh oysters are best, but this is a recipe designed to be made in minutes, so jarred oysters are suggested for this reason. Please don't use canned oysters—especially canned smoked oysters!