3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 large bulb fennel, quartered lengthwise, core removed and thinly sliced (heads up: save a handful of the fronds for garnish)
1 large onion, quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 large, fresh bay leaf
1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
2 healthy pinches of saffron
1 cup chicken stock
1 can chunky-style crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
1 1/2 pounds cod, cut into chunks
3/4 pound large, deveined shrimp
3/4 pound scrubbed mussels
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, torn or shredded
1 loaf of crusty bread
Heat the EVOO, three turns of the pan, over medium-high heat in large pot or Dutch oven. Add the fennel, onion and garlic, then season with salt and pepper and add in a bay leaf. Sauté for 10 minutes.
Add the vermouth or wine, stir, then add in the saffron threads, stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce for 5 minutes, then add the cod and seafood. Cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and firm and the fish is flaky and cooked through. Discard any unopened mussels.
Serve in shallow bowls garnished with fennel fronds and basil with crusty bread alongside for mopping.