There was a time when seafood stews and chowders were the food of the poor. Fishermen would make a stew out of leftover bits of seafood, tails or heads. Seafood, today, can be quite expensive. To keep the cost down buy local varieties of seafood and those that are on sale. Combining easy to find fish fillets with small amounts of shrimp or clams creates a rich blend of flavor without costing too much money. Adding an assortment of fresh vegetables, simple herbs and seasonings can make endless combinations for seafood soups or stews. If you have fish stock, then use it in place of the chicken broth. I rarely have it and I like the taste of chicken broth in the recipe. Some cooks use bottled clam broth, but I find that on the salty side. The vinegar helps to perk up all the flavors in the stew.

This stew creates a hearty meal that can be prepared in advance of the dinner hour. A salad and toasted crostini slices can be good sides, if you think you need them. You can use this recipe as a basic model in which to add seafood and seasonal vegetables that you like to use. Give it a try for a dinner out of the ordinary.

Seafood Stew

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large shallot, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 thin carrot, diced
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cups cauliflower, cut into small florets
½ cup diced rutabaga (or potato)
2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon seafood (Old Bay) seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 large plum tomato, seeded and diced
3 lbs firm boneless fish fillets (such as halibut, cod, red snapper, sea bass, grouper), cut into small cubes
8 oz medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and tails removed
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Directions

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoon butter. Add the onion, shallot and garlic. Saute for a minute or two and them add the carrot, celery and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the rutabaga and cauliflower. Stir into the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the vegetables until the rutabaga and cauliflower are tender. Remove the cover and add the: salt, pepper, chili flakes, seafood seasoning, thyme, tomato and vinegar. Sir well.

Add the cream, fish cubes and shrimp. Cook stirring the mixture gently for 4-5 minutes or until the fish and shrimp are cooked. Add the parsley and remaining tablespoon butter, heating until the butter is incorporated. Serve in large individual pasta bowls.

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