Photo: Ray Kachatorian
Seafood Stew with Cream and Fennel
For a truly special occasion, replace some of the mussels and clams with lobster and crabmeat. Serve the stew with lots of bread for soaking up every drop of the broth.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, cut into large dice
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, fronds reserved for garnish, and bulb thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
2 cups heavy cream
1 pound halibut fillets, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1!pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 pound small Manila clams (about 36), scrubbed
In a heavy 8-quart pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, fennel, garlic, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and bay leaf and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Add the wine and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until reduced by one-fourth. Add the broth and water, bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the flavors have blended.
Stir the cream into the broth, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Season the halibut with salt and pepper. Add the halibut, mussels, and clams to the simmering broth and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the clams and mussels have opened and the halibut is just cooked through and opaque.
Divide the soup among bowls, garnish with the reserved fennel fronds, and serve.
Make-Ahead: The broth (without the shellfish) can be made up to 1 day ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to a simmer before proceeding.
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