That delicate little spoon above is from my grandmother’s collection of silver, the kind of stuff that’s brought out only once a year. And that’s my step-mom’s beautifully patinaed All-Clad pot. And the stew that we supped on the night of Christmas Eve, whose simplicity and ease is remarkable. It’s just fish, fish stock, tomatoes, wine and spices. It’s all you need. We seem to have unofficially adopted a seafood-themed dinner the night before Christmas, and it’s a tradition that I enjoy. But by no means should this fantastic soup be limited to holiday dinners. It’s perfect when reheated the night after, when you’re tired and cold and not in the mood to cook, when you want to feel indulgent without calling upon heavy cream or butter.
SIMPLE FISH STEW
Serves 6, roughly
1 pound white fish, such as cod, red snapper or tilapia, cubed
3/4 pound large, uncooked shrimp (reserve shells)
3/4 pound clams, in shell
1/2 pound scallops
2 cups clam juice
2 cups shrimp stock (see note below)
2.5 cups canned diced tomatoes (including juice)
2 cups dry white wine
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley, divided
1/3 cup fresh chopped basil, divided
salt + pepper to taste
Note: You can also substitute fish stock for the clam juice and/or shrimp stock. It’s forgiving!
Simple fish stock with shrimp shells: In a sauce pot, add the shrimp shells and two cups water. Simmer over low heat, covered, until needed for soup (at least 15 minutes.)
In a stock pot, saute the onions over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for another minute, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes, wine and half of both the parsley and basil and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the clam juice and shrimp stock. When the broth has just begun to simmer, add the seafood. (You may want to add a little water at this point if there’s not enough.) Cover and cook for about ten minutes more, until all the clams have opened. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining parsley and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Enjoy with a crusty baguette!