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Oyster and Artichoke Soup

1/2 cup butter
6 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth or clam juice
1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons snipped parsley or 2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
Dash ground red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
24 shucked oysters

In a 3-quarter saucepan, melt butter. Add shallots, celery, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until tender. Stir flour into vegetable mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Using a wire whisk, stir in chicken broth or clam juice until smooth. Add artichoke hearts, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, ground red pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves. Add oysters and simmer, uncovered for 1 to 4 minutes or until oysters begin to curl around the edges. Serves 8 - 10 side dish servings.