One of our favorite family recipes of all time is this simple and easy fish stew. It takes fewer than 30 minutes, start to finish, and is absolutely delicious!
The key ingredient to this stew is clam juice, which they sell in shelf stable eight-ounce bottles. We usually keep a couple in our pantry. I have prepared the soup for people with shellfish allergies; the thing to do is to substitute the clam juice with white wine, fish stock, or water. It works; it's just not quite as tasty.
The stew works best with a firm white fish, such as halibut or cod. You could also use red snapper or even tilapia. Just stay away from delicate fish, such as sole or oily fish, such as tuna, for this stew.
If you want, you can add some shrimp, clams and/or scallops to the stew as well.
Video: Quick and Easy Fish Stew
How to Make Quick & Easy Fish Stew
A Hearty Stew vs. a Thinner Soup
This recipe will make a chunky stew with not a lot of liquid. If you prefer a brothier soup, you can add more clam juice, seafood broth, shellfish stock, or white wine to get it to the consistency you prefer. Just remember that the tomatoes and fish will both release more liquid as they cook.
As you add more liquid, taste the soup, and be sure to adjust the seasonings accordingly.
Substitutes and Add-Ins
This stew is delicious on its own, but it's so versatile. Our readers have shared many of their own takes over the years.
- To bulk it up, add chopped potatoes, canned white beans, bell peppers, zucchini, celery, summer squash, kale, spinach, or even bok choy.
- You can use any kind of flaky fish, like snapper, cod, rockfish, whitefish, or even tilapia. Or add shrimp, scallops, crawfish, or your choice of seafood.
- Add or substitute the herbs. Dill, oregano, basil, or cilantro are good options. Also, throwing in a bay leaf or two is great for the broth.
- Don't have clam juice? Use chicken or vegetable broth.
- If you don't have any white wine around, a light or medium-bodied red wine can work just as well.
- Garnish with freshly chopped herbs, chunky croutons, or bacon crumbles.
What’s the Secret Ingredient? Olive Oil!
Six tablespoons of olive oil may seem like a lot, but it makes the stew taste rich and wonderful. That's why we suggest you use a hearty fish that isn't oily. If you prefer, you can reduce the amount of olive oil. However, we suggest that you use at least a tablespoon to get your aromatics cooked.
Not sure what kind of olive oil to use? Here's our handy little guide on olive oils.
How to Prep and Store Fish Stew
If you're prepping this stew for a dinner party, make the soup base in advance and refrigerate. Then, reheat the broth and add the fish just before serving.
Have leftovers? Refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days. Just be sure to cool the soup to room temperature first.
We don't recommend freezing the leftover soup, since it will change the texture of the fish. But it's perfectly fine to freeze the broth and add the fish before serving.
Great Recipe Pairings for Fish Stew
- No Knead Bread
- Garlic Bread
- Mediterranean Mezze Platter
- Dirty Rice
- Kale Salad with Balsamic Pine Nuts and Parmesan
Quick Easy Fish Stew
For a variation, add 1/2 pound of shrimp, mussels, clams, and/or scallops to the stew. If adding shellfish, add them a couple minutes before the fish; they need more time to cook and open.
If you have shellfish stock, you may use 1 cup instead of the clam juice.
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh chopped tomato OR 1 (14-ounce) can whole or crushed tomatoes with their juices
2 teaspoons tomato paste, optional
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice (or 1 cup shellfish stock)
1/2 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon blanc)
1 1/2 pounds firm white fish fillets such as halibut, cod, red snapper, or sea bass, cut into 2-inch pieces
Pinch dried oregano
Pinch dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce , or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Saute the aromatics in olive oil:
Heat olive oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Add parsley and stir 2 minutes. Add tomato and tomato paste, and gently cook for 10 more minutes or so.
Finish the soup:
Add clam juice, dry white wine, and fish. Bring to a simmer, and let simmer until the fish is cooked through and easily flakes apart, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add seasoning — salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and Tabasco. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the stew:
Ladle into individual bowls and serve.
Great served with crusty bread for dipping in the fish stew broth.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 23g||29%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||17%|
|Total Carbohydrate 7g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 24mg||122%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|