5 lbs. fresh mussels
2 12-oz. bottles of pilsner or IPA
6 tbs. butter
2 cups finely diced smoked bacon
2 1/2 cups finely diced onion
2 1/2 cups finely diced celery
3 lbs. Yukon Gold or other yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 1/2 cups cream
1 1/2 cups milk
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 sprigs fresh thyme
36 fresh oysters, shucked, liquor reserved (Wellfleet or bluepoint preferred)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
One bunch of chives, finely chopped
Rinse the mussels in cold water to remove any excess sand, and place them in a large pot with the beer. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat until all the mussels open. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, then strain the liquid and reserve. (Eat the mussels or discard them.)
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, adding the bacon and cooking over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until the bacon starts to render and caramelize slightly. Add the onions and celery, then cook for 2 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften. (Do not allow them to brown.) Add the mussel-beer broth, and set aside.
Add all ingredients to a saucepan, and simmer until the potatoes are soft (about 20 minutes). Remove the thyme, and discard. Use a slotted spoon to remove half the potatoes, and add them to the soup base. With an immersion blender, purée the remaining potatoes. Add the purée to the soup base, and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes to combine flavors.
Finish the soup by adding the oysters along with their liquor. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Garnish with chives, and serve.