Simple Fish and Tomato Stew
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Simple Fish and Tomato Stew

Rach served this fish and tomato stew at her 2020 Christmas Eve dinner with her mom Elsa and John.  

"This dish is a simplified alternative to making a cioppino. Serve it as a solid, comforting meal all winter long." –Rach 

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  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 bulb fennel, quartered, cored and finely chopped

  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced, or 3 shallots, finely chopped

  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped

  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed and thinly sliced or chopped

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Herb bundle of a few sprigs of thyme and handful of parsley

  • Salt and black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon fennel pollen (optional)

  • 1 shot Pernod or other anise liqueur (optional)

  • 1 cup white wine

  • 2 cups chicken bone broth or seafood stock

  • One 28-ounce can Italian crushed tomatoes

  • A handful of basil, torn

  • 2 pounds sustainable cod, cut into 2½-to-3-inch chunks, dressed with juice of ½ lemon

  • 1½-to-2 pounds mussels, scrubbed

  • Chopped celery tops, parsley and chives, to serve (about ½ cup)

  • Crusty bread, such as warm ciabatta


Heat a large pot with a lid over medium to medium-high heat with EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, melt in butter, then add fennel, onion, celery, garlic, bay, herb bundle, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and, if using, fennel pollen. Soften 5 minutes, add Pernod, if using, let it absorb, add wine and reduce by half. Add broth or stock, tomatoes and basil, simmer a few minutes to combine flavors, adjust seasoning. Add cod and mussels and cover pan, cook to open mussels and discard those that do not open, cod should be firm and opaque. Top dish with chopped celery greens, parsley and chives. Pass crusty bread at table.

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