Classic Oyster Stew With Fennel Recipe

Given its simplicity, oyster stew is one of the most comforting winter soups. Photograph and video: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • The anise flavor of fennel infuses the whole-milk base and works wonderfully with the oysters.
  • Whole milk and butter make an oyster stew that's just rich enough without being heavy.

A simple, quick, and easy soup, this classic oyster stew is flecked with droplets of golden butter and flavored with aromatic vegetables, whole milk, and plenty of briny, fat oysters.


How to Shuck an Oyster

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 20 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (42g)

  • 2 medium shallots, finely diced (about 50g)

  • 1/2 medium head fennel, finely diced (about 50g) (see notes)

  • 1 large stalk celery, finely diced (about 50g)

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 10g)

  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 dried bay leaf

  • 1 quart (950mlwhole milk

  • 2 dozen oysters, shucked, liquor reserved (about 1 1/2 cups; 350g) (see notes)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Minced parsley, chives, tarragon, and/or fennel fronds, for garnish


  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots, fennel, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme or bay leaf.

  2. Add milk and bring to a bare simmer. Add oysters and their liquor and return to a bare simmer; adjust heat as necessary to prevent boiling. Simmer until oysters are just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Discard thyme or bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, garnish with herbs, and serve.

Special equipment

Large saucepan


If you don't have fennel, you can substitute 3 tablespoons of Pernod, added just before the milk. If you don't want to shuck your own oysters, feel free to use pre-shucked fresh ones (along with their liquor) from your fishmonger.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
387 Calories
21g Fat
25g Carbs
25g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 387
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 11g 54%
Cholesterol 135mg 45%
Sodium 546mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 25g
Vitamin C 16mg 82%
Calcium 315mg 24%
Iron 9mg 47%
Potassium 732mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)