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Festive “Feast of the Seven Fishes” Stew

stewsLooking forward to making a Feast of the Seven Fishes spread at home this year, but not quite as excited about the prospect of cooking seven actual dishes?  Well, problem solved, because this delectable stew is a one pot wonder.  Just add as many fish as you wish to a fragrant stock of wine, saffron, fennel and orange peel, and you’ll be able to spend a lot more time “waiting” for the birth of baby Jesus with friends and family, instead of hunched over a hot stove!

“Feast of the Seven Fishes” Stew
(serves 6)

3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 leek, white part only, chopped and well rinsed
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
The peel of 1 orange
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/3 cup of chopped fennel fronds
1 cup of fresh herbs in any combination, like thyme, parsley, oregano, or tarragon
1/2 teaspoon of saffron threads, crushed
3-4 pounds of fish scraps (like heads, bones, or tails) and shrimp shells
10 cups of water
1 cup of dry white wine
1 tablespoon of sea salt
3 pounds of seven different fishes and shellfish (like chunks of halibut, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, squid and lobster)

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil on medium heat.  When hot, add in the leek, onion and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes until softened but not brown.

Add in the orange peel, tomatoes, fennel, fresh herbs, saffron, fish trimmings, water, wine and salt, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Then turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain the soup into another large pot.

Bring the strained soup to a boil over medium high heat.  Taste and adjust with additional salt if needed.  Start stacking in the seafood items that require the most cooking time first; lobster or crab should get a two-minute head start.  Then add the clams, mussels, squid, fish, shrimp and scallops, in that order.  Cook everything together 4-5 minutes or until the clams and mussels have opened and the fish is cooked through and then turn off the heat.

Ladle the broth into bowls, top with assorted seafood and garnish with fresh fennel fronds.

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