Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven, over medium heat. Add onion and fennel and saute for 5 minutes, stirring.
Add the carrots, celery and garlic and continue sautéing for 5 more minutes. Season with salt, pepper and chili flakes. Add the tomato paste and stir one minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot, along with the wine. Let the wine reduce by half, then add the stock and bay leaves.
Either add 6 cups fish stock or 6 cups chicken stock ( see notes) and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust salt.
Please see notes for adding more depth. Once the carrots are tender, the broth is ready (it will only take about 10 more minutes to cook the fish, so often I’ll let the broth “rest” on the stove until right before serving. ) You could also make this ahead and refrigerate.
Bring the broth to a simmer and add the fish and seafood, staggering, adding the longest cooking fish first, and quickest cooking last if possible. Simmer gently 5-8 minutes.
Taste the broth and adjust salt – and add a squeeze of lemon if you like.
Stir in the fresh herbs right be fore serving ( or top each bowl with fresh herbs).
Serve with crusty bread.
Mussels and clams will open up when done. Shrimp will turn pink.
If you would like to create more depth in the broth (especially if using chicken stock) try adding a splash of fish sauce, a small bottle of clam juice, or even a couple teaspoons of anchovy paste.
Sometimes I’ll add a splash of Pernod along with the wine for more intense anise flavor.
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