- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 medium fennel bulb—trimmed, halved, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 3 cups fish stock or 1 1/2 cups bottled clam juice mixed with 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 dozen shucked oysters, with their liquor
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Melt the butter in a large nonreactive saucepan. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the potatoes, fennel, carrot, fish stock and half-and-half, reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Strain the stew into a bowl; set aside 1 1/2 cups of the vegetables. Transfer the remaining vegetables along with 2 cups of the liquid to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan and stir in the reserved vegetables and liquid.
- In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Rewarm the stew over moderate heat. Add the oysters with their liquor and the bacon and cook until the oysters are just firm, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley. Transfer to shallow soup plates and serve at once.
This light shellfish stew, thickened with pureed vegetables and flavored with bacon, is especially good with the dry Veuve3 Clicquot La Grande Dame.