Winter fish stew

February 17, 2010

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Serves 6

The subtle flavors of saffron and tomato anchor the soup base and purple-topped parsnips add to the heartiness. No need for heavy cream or a flour thickener to warm a winter-weary heart.

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced, rinsed, and patted dry
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt, to taste
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 purple-top turnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 quarts fish stock or 3 cups bottled clam broth mixed with 3 cups water
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless white fish, cut into 1-inch cubes
1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until hot. Cook the pancetta, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel.

2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. When it is hot, cook the leek, onion, celery, and carrots, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until they begin to soften.

3. Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the saffron, bay leaf, red pepper, coriander, and salt. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

4. Add the tomatoes and turnips. Cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes.

5. Add the wine and simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until the liquid reduces by about half.

6. Stir in stock or clam broth and water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until the parsnips are cooked through.

7. Add fish and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until it is cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or red pepper, if you like. Adapted from Rebecca Caras