Summer Seafood Stew

This was our dinner last night. A summery seafood stew…. light, bright and full of flavor. The base is a fennel tomato broth, landing somewhere in-between Boullabasie and Cioppino. Caramelized fennel adds a subtle sweetness, fresh tomatoes add a good tanginess, while chorizo ( or soy chorizo)  kicks up the flavor by adding the perfect amount of heat and heartiness. Served with crusty bread to mop up all the delicousness, it was the perfect light dinner. If you are going gluten free, try adding canneloni beans for a little extra heartiness instead of bread.
If you are efficient in the kitchen, this can be made in 30 minutes. The flavorful fennel- tomato broth can also be made ahead and refrigerated and when you are ready to eat, heat it up on the stove and finish by adding the seafood. Viola.
The recipe starts with browning a little chorizo ( 6-8 oz) in a heavy bottom skillet, or dutch oven.  You can also substitute a soy chorizo. If your chorizo comes in links, make sure to take it out of the casing and break it up a little into bite size pieces. One it is browned, set aside, drain off the fat and wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
In a little olive oil, sauté  fennel bulb and onion, until both are caramelized and tender.
Flavor tip: This is an amazing technique to build depth and flavor, and can be used in many other dishes. Add the tomato paste to the hot pan and stir constantly, sauteing on high heat for a few minutes. It will begin to darken. Cooking or frying the tomato paste like this really adds deep umami flavor.
Then add the white wine, let reduce, add stock, fresh tomatoes and browned chorizo. When I don’t have time to make a good fish stock, I use chicken stock and add a teaspoon of fish sauce. This seems to do the trick. Let simmer for a few minutes. Taste for salt…as all stocks and also chorizo vary in saltiness. Add fresh cracked pepper. When I make this recipe, using these exact ingredients, (using a flavorful chicken stock, fish sauce, chorizo, sauteing the tomato paste) I don’t need to add salt.  After the stew has simmered for a few minutes….add the fresh seafood.
Be sure to add the seafood according to cooking time. For example, large chunks of halibut will take longer to cook than mussels, so put the halibut in first. Large shrimp will take longer to cook than tiny shrimp. Look at what you have and think about which will cook fastest and slowest and add them accordingly. Normally, I add the fish first, bring back to a simmer for only a couple minutes, add the prawns, simmer for 1-2 minutes, add the mussels, simmer for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring very gently.
Give a generous squeeze of lemon and sprinkle with fresh Italian parsley.
Good crusty bread is easily made by purchasing a quality loaf of bread ( I like rosemary or whole roasted garlic) and slicing it into thick slices. Place on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Place in a hot oven until lightly browned.
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Summer Seafood Stew
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Northwest
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
A light summery seafood stew with caramelized fennel and chorizo
  • 6-8 ounces crumbled shorizo
  • 2 cups finely diced fennel ( one large bulb)
  • 1 cup finely diced onion ( half a large onion)
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly diced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 C dry white wine
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock ( or a good fish stock)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce ( leave out if using fish stock)
  • 2 medium tomatoes- diced
  • 8 oz firm fish like halibut, talapia, mahi mahi, or salmon
  • 1 lb mussels ( frozen are OK, but get fresh if you can)
  • 1 lb large prawns, raw, peeled and de-veined
  • cracked pepper
  • ⅓ C chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • salt if necessary
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Crusty Bread or 1 Cup of Cannellini Beans
  1. In a large heavy bottom deep skillet or Dutch oven, brown 6-8 ounces chorizo in a little olive oil. (Remove from casing and break up or crumble into small bite size pieces). Once browned, set aside. Pour off the fat, wipe out skillet with paper towel.
  2. In same skillet, heat 2 T olive oil on med high heat. Add fennel, stirring often for about 3 minutes. Add onion, turn heat down to med and saute both until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until garlic starts turn golden. Add tomato paste. Turn heat up to high, constantly stirring, until paste darkens, about 3 more minutes. You are basically frying the paste to deepen the flavor of the dish.
  3. Add white wine and turn heat down to medium high, stirring until it mostly evaporates, about 1-2 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, browned chorizo, and fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, taste for salt. Surprisingly, I didn't need to add any salt ( salt content in stocks and chorizo can vary greatly - so make sure to taste. Add cracked pepper. Add fish, simmer a couple minutes and add prawns, simmer a couple minutes, then add mussels. Remember the larger the prawns or mussels or fish pieces the longer they take to cook, so look at all your seafood ingredients and determine which will take the longest to cook, putting them in first.
  4. Finish with a squeeze of a half a lemon and sprinkle generously with flat leaf parsley.
  5. Serve with crusty bread. I like to cut a loaf of good quality garlic or rosemary bread into thick slices, arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and fresh rosemary sprigs, and bake in a 400F oven until toasty, or even better, grill the bread.
  6. If you are going gluten free, try adding a cup of cooked cannellini beans to the stew for added heartiness, instead of serving with bread.
thanks for sharing!
thanks for sharing!


  1. Anonymous says

    Made this today. Really good. The cod pretty much disintegrated though. Made some notes for next time. I was nervous about serving this to company since this was my first time making the dish, but they loved it.

  2. Anonymous says

    Is there anything I can substitute for the fennel in this recipe? Or does the licorice taste cook out? I have tried raw fennel in salads and don’t care for the flavor. Thanks!

    • Anonymous says

      I never had cooked with fennel before I made this recipe so I was a little nervous too,but it turned out so good I wanted to put my face in the bowl lol I am not a fan of Italian sausage because of the fennel seed but it totally cooked out in this recipe.

  3. Anonymous says

    You’ll want the fennel in it, I also added calamari and cooked with fennel, the flavor is unbelievable. No licorice flavor at all. Also use Chilean sea bass it won’t fall apart and is wonderful.

  4. says

    I have now made this recipe three times – once for my family and twice for guests. The flavors are amazing – the tip on cooking the tomato paste out was priceless. It added incredible flavor!! My guests all went hone with your recipe

  5. Anonymous says

    Did you serve with any additional side other than the bread? Dessert ideas that might pair well? Thanks!

    • says

      Normally I just serve this alone, or perhaps with a salad beforehand. For dessert ideas, I always look at what’s in season. Now, it’s stone fruits and berries. Peach cobbler, Apricot Galette or huckleberry tarts. :)

  6. joy says

    I’ve made this dish a few times. It is one of my family’s favorites and I’ve added your recipe to my “tried and true”

  7. says

    I just stumbled upon your blog when I was browsing Pinterest. Pinned this in less than a second and drooling as I read this post. I can’t wait to try it. I have a stock pile of fish in my freezer right now that I purchased on sale. Now I need to find some friends to invite over – because this dish is way too pretty to not share!!!

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