Friday, December 20, 2013

Fish Stew (Or, How to Lose Six Pounds)

This is one of my best recipes, a soup that my husband loves above all others, because it is full of flavor and heat and fresh ingredients.

I adapted it from Sara Foster's cookbook, one of the few cookbooks I don't regret buying.
Her stew is replete with mussels, clams, and shrimp. I skip all those and just use fish.      

This cookbook was worth buying for two recipes: the fish stew, and the black-bean dip.
Yesterday I snacked on Christmas cookies and fresh rolls all afternoon. It was terrible. Thankfully I had this stew on hand, because its real, hearty depth of flavor was purely satisfying in a way that cookies are not.
(My other two tips on how to lose six pounds: stop drinking pop, and eat a blueberry-walnut-yogurt breakfast. These tips sort of worked for me. I'm sharing them because they might help you. At the least, you'll feel better. At the most, if you're a woman, you might end up pregnant. Which means you will gain 20 pounds).        

Fish Stew

2 Tb. olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (Foster's recipe calls for 6 cloves. Go for it if you love garlic)  
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes (I sometimes use a diced fresh tomato)   
8 cups broth, either fish or chicken
1 cup dry white wine (I use Three Buck Chuck, or sometimes skip the wine)     
2 teaspoons salt
1 tsp. fresh black pepper   
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (less if you don't like heat)    
grated zest and juice of two oranges
2 pounds of fresh or frozen fish (we like the wild-caught cod from Costco), cut into 2-inch pieces  
2 tsp saffron threads (this is so expensive that I use far less, just a pinch)
2 Tb. finely sliced fresh basil leaves (I often use dried basil) 

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat, add onion, cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes.  

While onions are cooking, soak the leeks in a large bowl of cold water. Rinse and drain the leeks, and add them to the onions. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.

Add celery and carrots, cook and stir for 5-10 minutes

Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes

Add tomatoes, broth, wine, salt, pepper, marjoram, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes. (Foster says one hour, but I like my veggies to have some personality).  

Increase heat to medium-high, add orange zest and juice, fish, and saffron. Stir to mix. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fish is done. This might only take about 5 minutes. Fish is done when it begins to flake.

Remove stew from heat.

To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with basil     

This was a date meal, since we like it and our younger kids do not.
(Look at Malachi's concerned face. He's wondering what in the world he's getting for supper).



  1. Sounds yummy! Your weight loss tips made me laugh - here I thought it was just me! After baby #3, I finally got down below my pre-kids weight, and shortly thereafter, baby #4 was on the way. That was over 6 years ago and (you guessed it) 20 pounds ago!

    1. Ack that's how it goes! Each baby it gets harder, plus I'm older. Merry Christmas Jamie!

  2. I used to keep cooking wine in the cupboard for recipes like this; you know, the kind of wine that they add salt to, so nobody would ever drink it. Since we moved, 2 things have happened to me. (1) I have begun shopping almost exclusively at Aldi because it is the only place that has lines that move, except for possibly Schnucks, where I refuse to shop because the ground beef is over $6/pound. Ground beef! (2) They carry wine and liquor in grocery stores here (and drug stores, and basically any store with a cash register)... the point being that, while Aldi does not carry cooking wine, they do carry wine, and you can get Pinot Grigio for $2.89 a bottle, and it makes everything so good.. for instance, sauteed baby spinach. oh. my. word. But. I digress. I think I will try this recipe, even though I will have to go to Meijer to get all the ingredients, and that means a 20+ minute wait at the check-out, so I will make sure I am snacked and bathroomed right before I leave, and I will take a good book to read in line. Jon was just looking at the fish at Meijer today, saying he'd like to have some while he is home. We were waiting to buy a roast beef at the meat counter when he saw it, but we finally left without any beef because it was taking so long and I needed to save my strength to get a Christmas tree.

  3. Have fun cooking for your kids Ruthie! I love Aldi. The line moves fast, I pay with cash, and it's so cheap. But I couldn't get by without Costco.

    xoxo L.