Seafood Stew

This delicious seafood stew is not your everyday seafood chowder. It is an elegant Provençal style seafood stew with fennel, potatoes, fish, shrimp and mussels and some delicious finishing flavors.

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Two blue and white bowls with seafood stew, a place setting and a couple pieces of bread.

Provençal Style Seafood Stew

Sometimes a seafood stew or chowder can be thick and heavy. This is not that sort of seafood stew. Instead, it is delightfully light with bright fresh flavors all in a tomato-based broth. It’s versatile as well, allowing you to add whatever seafood you like. An added bonus is that this is relatively quick to make and very easy to prepare.

Looking down on a bowl of mussels, a bowl of shrimp and two fillets of cod on a blue cutting board.

What Seafood to add to Seafood Stew

The seafood for this stew is really up to you. You’ll need some fish. I like to use a white-fleshed fish that has some substance to it so that it stands up to some stirring and ladling. You could use cod, haddock, hake, pollack, striped bass, halibut or white sea bass, or you could salmon or arctic char if that is your preferred fish species. Whatever you get, cut it into 1-inch chunks. Shrimp is always a nice addition to the stew. You could purchase shell on shrimp and peel and devein it yourself. That would give you shrimp shells to use to make seafood stock. However, you can also buy shrimp that has already been peeled and deveined (and you can buy seafood stock too). To me, mussels really make this stew pretty, but clams would work as well. Pick the seafood you like.

Looking down into a pot with tomato based stew next to a bowl of mussels, a bowl of shrimp and two fillets of cod on a blue cutting board.

Make Ahead Seafood Stew

The base to this stew is delicious. It’s a tomato-based broth with leeks, fennel and potatoes and is seasoned with some fresh thyme and a pinch of saffron. Saffron is expensive, so while it gives this stew such a beautiful flavor, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it to you. If you want to make this stew ahead of time, make this delicious stew base and then stop. The seafood only takes 10 minutes and is better added just before you’re ready to enjoy the stew. So, make the base and keep it refrigerated with the seafood until you’re ready to eat. Bring the broth base to a simmer and then proceed with adding the seafood according to the recipe. 

Looking down into a pot of seafood stew with a ladle sticking out.

Finishing Touches for Seafood Stew

The finishing touches for this stew really give it a Provençal flavor. Pernod (or Pastis or Sambucca) added at the end enhances the fennel flavor, and fresh orange zest brightens up the stew more than you can imagine. If you don’t want to add alcohol to the stew, leave the Pernod out, but don’t skip the orange zest. Then throw in the chopped parsley and you’re ready to serve.

Serving seafood stew out of a stockpot into a blue and white bowl.

How to Serve

I like to serve this seafood stew with some crusty bread to soak up the broth at the end. A simple salad on the side is a nice accompaniment to this one pot meal, and along with a glass of wine makes dinner complete. 

Looking down on a blue and white bowl with seafood stew, a place setting and a couple pieces of bread.

Featured Recipe Techniques

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Seafood Stew with Fennel, Tomatoes and Potatoes

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 40 m
  • Total Time: 1 h
  • Servings:
    to 6 people


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek cleaned, white and light green part thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic smashed
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2½ cups)
  • 1 bulb fennel chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cups seafood stock or chicken stock if you can’t find seafood stock
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads optional
  • 1 pound white fish fillets such as halibut, turbot, red snapper, striped bass, grouper or cod, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 12 mussels scrubbed and de-bearded (discard any mussels that are open, broken or don’t close their shells when tapped)
  • 12 large raw shrimp peeled and de-veined
  • 3 tablespoons anise-flavored liquor Pernod, Pastis or Sambuca
  • zest of one orange
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Pre-heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the leek and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the potatoes and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Let the leek brown slightly, but do not let it burn. Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.
  2. Deglaze the pot with the white wine, scraping any brown bits that may have formed on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, stock, thyme and saffron (if using), and let the mixture simmer over medium-low to low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in the fish and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the mussels and shrimp, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the anise-flavored liquor and orange zest. Discard any mussels whose shells did not open. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve in bowls with the parsley sprinkled generously on top and accompany with some crusty bread to soak up the remaining sauce.
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