My niece reminded everyone the other day on Facebook that it’s getting to be soup weather. I, for one, believe it’s already here. And it’s not only “soup” weather, it’s “stew” weather. This is an amazingly aromatic fish stew that calls for a firm fleshed white fish, like hake, halibut, mahi-mahi…even catfish. Better still, try a combination of fish in this one.
It’s great with a nice, dry white wine and some crusty Italian or French bread. And don’t worry about the addition of the anchovies. It adds amazing flavor, and nobody will even know they are there. Even though you may have some friends who are anchovy-phobic, do not leave these out of the recipe!
2 tbsp olive oil
2 Vidalia onions, chopped
1 celery heart, chopped
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 lbs ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1.5 cups dry white wine, like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio
3 cups water
Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
2 wide strips orange zest
2 lbs firm, white fish (halibut, hake, catfish, mahi-mahi, cod…or any combination thereof), cut in pieces
Saffron (generous pinch)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Chopped parsley or slivered basil, for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots. Cook for 10-15 minutes until thoroughly tender.
Add the garlic and parsley. Cook for several minutes more until the garlic is fragrant and becomes translucent.
Add the chopped tomatoes and anchovies. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often until tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture becomes aromatic.
Stir in the dry white wine and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the water, return to slow boil. Add about 1.5 to 2 tsp sea salt, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes. Stir frequently. Taste for salt and garlic. Add more if necessary. Remember that once the fish is added it will increase the depth of flavor.
Stir in the orange zest and the fish. Add a health pinch of saffron. Simmer slowly uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
Add the fresh-ground pepper, taste again, and adjust the salt if necessary.
Remove the orange peel, and remove the stew from the heat. Serve in soup bowls, garnishing with either parsley or slivered basil. Serve with crusty bread or garlic croutons.