In a 3-quart casserole, melt butter and saute shallots. When shallots are translucent, add thyme, bay leaf and cayenne pepper. Add flour and whisk well. Add broth, oyster water, artichoke hearts, salt and tabasco. Bring to a boil. Add oysters and parsley. Simmer on medium, partly covered, for exactly 5 minutes. Add whipped cream and serve immediately.
NOTES: Chicken broth with artichokes and poached oysters -- This is a modern cajun-style recipe that I adapted from a local convenience-food cookbook by Jean Durkee. It's an intriguing combination of modern American ingredients with traditional cajun flavorings.
* Fresh parsley tastes much better than dried parsley. If the oysters are bigger than a small bite-size, cut them up before adding them to the soup. Use the smallest oysters you can find.
* When I'm not making a double recipe, I usually dump the entire (about 1-cup) container of whipping cream into the soup, even though that's double what the recipe calls form.
* The timing on cooking the oysters is fairly critical. If you overcook them, they will be rubbery.