RECIPE: Mediterranean Fish Stew

Now that the weather resembles an idyllic New England fall, soup season is on!

I was holding onto the last bit of summer this week, so I made a Mediterranean Fish Stew to highlight my two favorite summer ingredients: tomatoes and whitefish. This soup isn’t heavy, so it is perfect for lunch or a light dinner.

FishStew

The secret to good soup is simple: prepare every ingredient the way it should be cooked. Sauté your garlic. Sweat your onions. Cook off your wine.  It may take a little more time and planning, but doing this will leave you with a soup that is full of layers and distinct flavors.

Makes 2 Pints. Serves 5

As with most soup recipes, there is room for variation. When it comes to fish, I prefer to use cod instead of haddock or hake. Cod is firmer and stands up better in a soup. As for the vegetables, don’t let the fennel scare you off! It may not be an ingredient you’re familiar with, but I highly recommend trying it.  The fennel flavor is subtle and pairs incredibly well with whitefish. If you insist that fennel isn’t your thing, you can substitute a small yellow onion.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fennel bulb, tops removed, bulb sliced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable or seafood stock
  • 1 15oz canned plum tomatoes, or 6 plum tomatoes peeled
  • 1 pound white fish, filleted and skin removed
  • ½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Salt & Pepper

Method
Heat olive oil in a medium-sized stock pot over medium heat. Once the oil is glistening, add garlic and sliced fennel; season with salt and pepper and cook until they are translucent and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Stir in smoked paprika and red pepper flakes; continue to stir gently for 1 minute.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add wine. Simmer the wine until it is reduced by about half. At this stage, you’re cooking off the alcohol. It’s an important step so that your soup doesn’t have a boozy flavor. Once the wine has reduced, season with salt and pepper and add the stock and tomatoes. With the back of your spoon, smash the tomatoes to break them into smaller pieces. It’s a lot less messy to do this in the pot than chopping them beforehand. Reduce the heat to low, cover the soup, and allow it to simmer for about twenty minutes. While you’re waiting, peel and devein the shrimp.

Remove the cover, season one last time with salt and pepper, and increase the temperature to medium. The soup should come up to a light boil in about 5 minutes. Add the whole fish fillet. Allow the fish to cook for 5 minutes and then add the shrimp. After another 4 minutes, both the fish and shrimp will be opaque and cooked through. Gently break up the fish fillet with your spoon and remove the soup from the burner.

The soup can be served immediately, or you can leave it on the stove for a few hours and warm it back up when you’re ready to eat. As with all soups, the longer it sits the better it tastes!

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