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Italian Fish Stew

Provided by Mel & Sheryl London

This complexly flavored fish stew is a great company fish dish that receives accolades and is also easy on the cook. The base can be prepared several hours or a day in advance, then re-heated just before serving with the addition of the fish, pasta and leafy green vegetable.

Italian Fish Stew


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 medium onion (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 celery rib or a piece of fennel bulb (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 thin leek white plus 1 inch green (3/3 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot (about 2/3 cup chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 28 ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large Idaho potato (1/2 pound) peeled & cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch sugar
  • ½ teaspoon chile paste or hot pepper flakes to taste
  • 4 ounce small pasta (e.g. ditalini, bows or shells)
  • 2 ½ pounds striped bass or other firm fish (e.g. pink snapper), skinned and cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
  • 10 ounce package fresh spinach, tip of stems removed (or Swiss chard leaves cut in 1 ½ inch strips
  • ½ cup minced flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese


Heat the oil in a 6 or 7 quart Dutch oven over medium heat. In a food processor, chop the garlic, onions, fennel, celery or leak and carrot together. Add the oil and sauté, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 5 minutes, adding a tiny bit of salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and crush them in the pot. Then add the wine, water, and fish tock, the bay leaf and potato cubes. Season with the orégano, cloves, pinch of sugar, the chile paste and a bit more salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water. Drain and set aside. At this point, the soup and pasta can be cooled if made several hours or a day before. If made in advance, refrigerate until ready to continue the recipe.

When ready to complete cooking, bring the soup to simmer again. Add half of the parsley and all of the spinach as well as the cooked pasta and continue to cook only until the spinach is wilted and the fish is done. Test the fish with the point of a knife after 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf and serve in large soup bowls , sprinkled with the remaining parsley and the cheese – or with garlic toasts sprinkled with cheese.



MEL & SHERYL LONDON are the authors of eleven cookbooks, including “A Seafood Celebration” and “The Fish Lovers” Cookbook.” They are winners of the James Beard Award and the Tastemaker Award and were finalists for the IACP Cookbook Award for “The Gourmet Garage Cookbook.” They have been loyal and loving customers of The Lobster Place since the company first opened its doors in Chelsea Market.