Ingredients For the salt pork: 3 pounds pork shoulder 1½ cups sea salt or kosher salt 1 bay leaf
For the soup: 1 tablespoon Garlic Olive Oil ½ pound salt pork 4 pounds yellow onions, finely diced 4 large ripe tomatoes, cored 1 cup finely chopped garlic ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper, plus more as needed ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more as needed 3 quarts fish stock or chicken stock 2 pounds shucked salty oysters, drained Kosher salt, if needed ½ pound small pasta shells, cooked as directed Garnish: Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and green onions
Directions Make the salt pork: Wash and dry the pork and cut it into pieces. Working over the dish, rub pork liberally on all sides with salt. You want to really press the salt into the pork. Place pieces in casserole dish and cover with remaining salt; add bay leaf. Wrap the casserole dish with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 2 days. Unwrap pork and pour off any liquid. Use salt on the bottom of the dish to give pork another good rub. Rewrap and refrigerate for 2 days more.
Make the soup: Warm a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, then add Garlic Olive Oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add salt pork and cook, stirring as needed to brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, black pepper, and cayenne and stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let everything smother together, stirring every 15 minutes. Cook until tomatoes are completely broken down and fall apart easily when you press on them with a spoon, about 45 minutes. Add stock, oysters and raise heat to medium. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, letting all the flavors marry; the soup will be salty from the oyster water and salt pork and sweet from the tomatoes and onions. Be careful to not boil down the soup too much.