A bowl of this Provencal Fish Stew like a tiny little trip to the Mediterranean. It’s unbelievably easy, but I would serve this to guests in a heartbeat. It’s hearty, but still so light and clean and simple.
The saffron is optional mostly because of cost. Saffron is a wonderful but pricy spice – it’s made from the stamens of crocuses, which might not sounds delicious, but it adds a flavor that is at once elusive, rich aromatic, and deep. And even though it’s expensive, you will see that a little goes a long way – just a pinch of saffron adds so much dimension to the soup.
You can absolutely positively serve this Provencal Fish Stew as is, with no extra adornment other than the shredded basil. Traditionally in the South of France this type of fish stew or soup is served with rouille, which is a bread-thickened sauce featuring peppers and various seasonings. It comes together quickly and it definitely makes a fish stew dinner feel like a celebration.
Provencal Fish Stew usually also accompanied by bread, and the sauce can be dolloped on the bread, then floated in the stew so that the sauce swirls into the liquid. If you’re interested in the rouille, which takes hardly any extra time, click here.
As an unconventional but practical shortcut, you can stir a little bit of harissa or other chili paste into a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise for a spicy-creamy approximation of rouille.
A bowl of this Provencal Fish Stew like a tiny little trip to the Mediterranean. It’s unbelievably easy, but absolutely company worthy.Tweet This
Provencal Fish Stew
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 small bulb fennel cored, quartered and chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 zucchini diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Pinch saffron threads optional
- 2 Yukon Gold potatoes about 8 ounces total, scrubbed or peeled and cut into 1/2 –inch dice
- 1 ½ pounds cod or other inexpensive flaky white fish
- 1 orange zested and juiced
- 3 tablespoons halved pitted black olives
- 3 tablespoons torn fresh basil leaves
- Sliced baguette to serve
- Rouille to serve
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the fennel and the onions, and sauté for 5 minutes until they start to become tender. Add the zucchini and the garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for another 5 minutes, until all of the vegetables are tender. Add the white wine, and stir to scrap up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, thyme and saffron bring to a simmer; add the potatoes and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper, and sear the filet on both sides, for 5 to 7 minutes per side, until the fish is just barely cooked through (it really depends on the thickness of the fish – if it falls apart a little that’s a-ok). Remove and set aside.
- When cooled slightly, use a fork to break the fish into 1-inch chunks. Add them to the pot along with the orange zest and juice, and halved olives, stirring gently to combine.
- Serve hot with slivered basil on top of each portion, ladled into individual bowls. Spoon some rouille on the slices of barguette and place them on the side or on top of the bowls.
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