This stew draws inspiration from Spanish and Portuguese traditions, where pork, seafood, and potatoes or beans play important roles. In this pot, beans and dried Spanish chorizo in a rich tomato broth with smoky flavors give the stew some heft. It is easy to assemble and even easier to cook. Saute the fennel and chorizo first, make a sauce with canned tomatoes and chicken stock, and simmer canned beans. Cook the mussels and chunks of white fish very briefly. You can make the broth ahead, and when you’re ready to serve the stew, cook the mussels quickly, then the fish. Keep in mind that the fish continues to cook from residual heat, so undercooking it slightly will yield ideal results as it finishes cooking off the heat.
The texture of dried chorizo is akin to salami; it is cured and hard. It is also intensely flavored with smoked paprika. Look for it in specialty food shops. Or substitute fresh chorizo sausages sliced and added to the pot before adding the vegetables. Another trick is to cook the tomatoes until most of the liquid evaporates to concentrate and deepen their flavor. A winter fish stew warms both body and soul as the chilly season wears on.
SALLY PASLEY VARGAS
Winter fish stew with chorizo, white beans,
and garlic toasts
|1||loaf French bread, cut into 6 pieces|
|¼||cup olive oil, or more, as needed|
|1||clove garlic, peeled|
1. Set an oven rack 4 inches from the broiler and turn on the broiler. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Cut the bread pieces in half lengthwise and place them on a baking sheet with the cut side up. Brush with oil.
3. Broil the bread for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the edges brown and the centers are light golden. Rub the garlic clove over the bread. The outsides will be toasty, but the insides should still be soft.
|2||tablespoons olive oil|
|2||cloves garlic, finely chopped|
|1||onion, coarsely chopped|
|1||fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into ½-inch dice|
|¼||teaspoon Aleppo, maras, or other crushed red pepper|
|6||ounces mild dried chorizo sausage, sliced into thin rounds|
|1||can (15 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes|
|2||cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained|
|1||cup white wine|
|3||cups chicken stock|
|Salt, to taste|
|1||pound cleaned mussels|
|1½||pounds cod, halibut, or other mild white fish, cut into 1½-inch chunks|
|¼||cup chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)|
1. In a large flameproof casserole over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic, onion, fennel, red pepper, and chorizo. Cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until most of the water from the tomatoes evaporates.
2. Add the beans, wine, stock, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and more red pepper, if you like.
3. Add the mussels and cover the pan. Cook for 1 minute, or until the mussels just begin to open. Add the fish to the pan and cover. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until the fish is just cooked through. Discard any mussels that do not open.
4. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with the toasts.
Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.