Here’s a simple recipe for Portuguese Fish Stew (Caldeirada) that can be made with fish or shellfish in a fragrant yet simple, saffron broth, studded with potatoes. Rustic and light, this summer stew can be made in just 30 minutes! Serve with Rice or Crusty Bread! Video.

Here's a simple recipe for Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada) that can be made with fish or shellfish in a fragrant yet simple, saffron broth, studded with potatoes. Rustic and light, this summer stew can be made in just 30 minutes! Serve with Rice or Crusty Bread!

This rustic fish stew hails from Portugal, called Caldeirada, is light and flavorful and infused with saffron. Today I’ve used a mix of salmon and wild cod,  but in the past, I’ve thrown in mussels and shrimp.  It’s a nice way to use what you have. New potatoes give the soup a little body. Serve it on its own or with crusty bread to mop up the flavorful saffron broth.

The best part? This Portuese Fish Stew comes together in under 30 minutes! A delicious dinner in no time flat.

Portuguese Fish Sew | Video

Ingredients in Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada)

It starts with sauteing the onion and garlic until golden and fragrant.  Add the diced tomatoes and cook until they soften and begin losing their shape.

how to make Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada)

Add a generous pinch of saffron, crumbling it a little in your fingers.

add saffron to How to make Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada)

Add the stock, bay leaves, salt, spices and potatoes. to keep this lower carb- feel free to sub cauliflower. Not traditional, but it works!

How to make Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada)

Bring the potatoes to a simmer, cover and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

How to make Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada)

Then add the fish and thyme.

The best firm fish for soups or stews: 

You generally want to use firm white fish for most stews and soups, because they will hold their shape and not disintegrate in the liquid. Here are 10 the best fish (and seafood) to use in soups and stews.

  1. sea bass
  2. halibut
  3. black cod
  4. haddock
  5. escolar
  6. ono
  7. red snapper
  8. salmon
  9. scallops
  10. shrimp

How to make Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada)

Simmer gently until the fish is just cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Try not to stir too much, but rather gently ladle the saffron broth over top.

How to make Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada)

Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro, a squeeze of lemon, and if you like spice- some chili flakes.

Here's a simple recipe for Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada) that can be made with fish or shellfish in a fragrant yet simple, saffron broth, studded with potatoes. Rustic and light, this summer stew can be made in just 30 minutes! Serve with Rice or Crusty Bread!

Dish up the Portuguese Fish Stew and serve with crusty bread or rice if you want.

Here's a simple recipe for Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada) that can be made with fish or shellfish in a fragrant yet simple, saffron broth, studded with potatoes. Rustic and light, this summer stew can be made in just 30 minutes! Serve with Rice or Crusty Bread!

I hope you enjoy the stew!

More fish stew recipes you may like:

xoxo

Sylvia

 

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Here's a simple recipe for Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada) that can be made with fish or shellfish in a fragrant yet simple, saffron broth, studded with potatoes. Rustic and light, this summer stew can be made in just 30 minutes! Serve with Rice or Crusty Bread!

Portuguese Fish Stew (Caldeirada)

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Fish, Stew
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Portuguese
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Here’s a simple recipe for Portuguese Fish Stew (aka Caldeirada) that can be made with fish or shellfish in a fragrant yet simple, saffron broth, studded with potatoes. Rustic and light, this summer stew can be made in just 30 minutes! Serve with Rice or Crusty Bread!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or fish stock, or use half clam juice)
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce ( skip if using fish stock/clam juice)
  • large pinch saffron, crumbled
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove (or allspice)- optional see notes
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 tablespoons fresh thyme (lemon thyme is nice)
  • 1 lb potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (yukon, baby red or white) thin skins ok -but peel russets. Or sub cauliflower for a lower carb version.
  • ——-
  • 1.5 lbs fish fillets- (boneless, skinless) wild cod, haddock, sea bass, salmon (or feel free to mix in or substitute shellfish- clams, mussels, shrimp, etc.) cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

Garnish: Lemon wedges, fresh Italian parsley or cilantro, Crusty Bread, chili flakes


Instructions

In a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic, stirring until softened, fragrant and golden, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices. Cook until tomatoes soften, about 4 minutes.

Add the white wine, and simmer until most has evaporated, about 2-3 minutes.

Add stock, fish sauce ( if using chicken broth), saffron, a pinch of ground clove or allspice, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, bay leaves and fresh thyme.  Add potatoes and bring to boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 minutes.

Add fish, bring to a simmer over medium heat, give a gentle stir ( don’t over stir or fish will break apart) and cook fish until it is just cooked through about 3-4 minutes. Turn heat off.

Taste broth. Adjust salt, adding more if necessary.

Garnish with fresh torn Italian parsley leaves, lemon wedges, chili flakes and crusty bread.


Notes

Traditional Portuguese Fish Stew varies from village to village and is typically made with the day’s catch, or the addition of shellfish, or a combo of two types of fish, one oily and one not.  Some varieties include cured chorizo that has been browned which add depth and smokiness (it doesn’t take much).

Feel free to sub fish stock.

The pinch of cloves or allspice is optional – you’ll see these in some Caldeirada recipes but not all. If in doubt leave out. I really liked the allspice– up to you. 😉

Not all saffron is the same. Generally the darker the color, the more flavor. If you are craving the saffron flavor, keep in mind the smoked paprika will mute that somewhat.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 447
  • Sugar: 6.7 g
  • Sodium: 305.6 mg
  • Fat: 19 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30.2 g
  • Fiber: 5.5 g
  • Protein: 41.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 86.7 mg

Keywords: Portuguese Fish Stew, Caldeirada, Caldeirada Recipe, Fish Stew with saffron, Fish stew with potatoes

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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Comments

    1. Fish stock is always best here, but chicken stock with fish sauce works as a good substitute.

  1. This soup is outrageous! It was a big hit in my house. Our neighbor gave us a beautiful piece of halibut that he caught in the Monterey Bay. This soup really highlighted the freshness and every flavor worked perfectly together. Thank you, Sylvia, for another fantastic meal.

  2. So delicious. My husband loves spicy food so I added
    fresh Serrano peppers.
    Thank you for sharing your recipes.
    Will do it again.

  3. This Portuguese fish stew was incredible! We used cod and the only alteration I made was that I also added a 28 ounce can of Muir Glen fire roasted, diced tomatoes. I will definitely make this again and next time, we’ll also incorporate either shrimp or scallops, as well as a spicy pork sausage.

    I highly recommend this recipe – you will love it!

  4. Delicious – two thumbs up! I attempted your recipe last night for the first time (it won’t be the last). I probably ate more crusty bread than I normal would have for dipping into the stew liquid… yum. I used wild black cod and I added tiger shrimp (cut into smaller pieces) and also bay scallops. I didn’t have lemon thyme as suggested, so I used regular thyme and a splash of lemon juice. I didn’t have fish sauce but hoped the added seafood would be enough for a fish flavour. I also added some chili flakes at the end for added “kick”. The saffron is a little expensive but a must… and made me feel like a real chef… hahaha. The added potatoes makes for a filling dish. Thank you for sharing your recipe… a wonderful Portuguese dish… 🙂

  5. I am a chef who is retiring to Portugal this summer, so I’m learning Portuguese cuisine. I made this last night and it was delicious beyond description and so easy! I used my own vegetable broth that I make each week from scraps and it added an amazing layer of flavor. I’m in the middle of Kansas, so had to use frozen fish; I can’t to have access to Portugal’s bounty of fresh fish!

    1. You know, I’m not sure the cooked fish would have the best texture if frozen. But I have not tried freezing.

  6. so easy but totally satisfying. I substituted a few things – it works with most fish and shellfish, however the paprika and saffron are non-negotiable. Coriander is a a lovely completion to the dish. This dish feels so comforting but healthy and nutritious. A great meal for a dinner party too (when we’re allowed post lock down). Totally easy to make but it doesn’t look like you’ve cut corners to your guests. More time to top your glass up. What’s not to like? Love it!

  7. This turned out great! I used turnips, carrots and potatoes because that’s what I remember in the stews in Portugal. Clams, mussels, halibut, sea bass and a little chorizo. Beautiful flavor.

  8. We made this tonight with what was available and on-hand. Cod was the fish of choice. We weren’t able to get fish stock and chicken wasn’t an option for the pescatarian in our group, so we used clam juice and vegetable broth. Everyone loved it! Thank you for this wonderful, easy recipe!

  9. Excellent recipe thanks. I use salmon, halibut, and a can of chopped clams with liquid. Also use both clove and allspice and mash a few pieces of potato for body. Thanks again!

  10. I absolutely love your recipe Sylvia, I have made it once a week during lockdown and it has brought smiles to everyone’s faces – my 7 and 8 year old eat every bite!

  11. Hi,
    I am planning to cook for 3 X times. This is for large group of people for multiple days. Do the measurements need to be increased 3 times? I tried the same technique in another recipe and it didn’t work out as planned. Do you suggest any changes to the measures?

    Thanks,
    Maloy

  12. This was fabulous! Used cod and clams and included the allspice and smoked paprika. Also used fresh thyme from the garden and a mix of yellow, white and purple baby potatoes. Looking forward to making this again and varying the type of seafood- maybe some shrimp and scallops next time.

  13. Wonderful ! My husband and I really enjoyed it, especially adding chili flakes at the end!

    I have also made your sourdough bread which was also fantastic!

  14. Got this in my email and instantly ran to the local fish market! I used cod and shrimp…the flavors were so reminiscent of summers in Cape Cod, where we first experienced Portuguese food, and my family agreed, this one is a keeper! absolutely delicious!

  15. I am not rating because I haven’t made this yet (but will SOON), just wondered if you have any suggestions on stripping the tiny thyme leaves from the branches. Occasionally I will get a branch with no “offshoots” and can run it thru my thumb and forefinger to strip off the leaves, but more often there are so many tiny little branchlets that snap when I try to attempt this. What do YOU do???