Italian Seafood Stew
While Italian soups are often referred to as “peasant food,” a traditional Italian Seafood Stew defies the label and is a rich man’s feast of flavors. The flavor base for my Italian Seafood Stew is a sauté of crushed red pepper flakes, anchovy fillets, garlic and a bay leaf. The combination is sautéed in olive oil until the anchovy fillets disintegrate. Licorice-flavored fennel, along with onion and celery are an aromatic addition.
The soup’s liquids are clam juice or chicken broth, white wine and crushed tomatoes, all scented with a bit of fresh thyme, parsley and basil. For the seafood, I like a combination of tender fish fillets, shrimp, scallops and clams. Fresh clams are always my preference over canned, but when they are unavailable in your area simply stir in a 10-ounce can of baby clams along with their juices. The soup is wonderful paired with some crusty bread and a tossed salad for a sublime autumn meal.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil, crushed pepper, anchovies, garlic and bay leaf and sauté until fragrant and anchovies are “melted.” Add fennel, onion and celery and sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the clam juice or broth and the wine and bring to a boil. Let simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, thyme and half of the parsley and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the fish. Cover and simmer, do not stir, for 5 minutes. Add the remaining seafood, cover, turn off heat cook until shrimp are turn pink, about 5 minutes.
Makes 8 servings.