Summer Shellfish Stew

Most people think of stews as being a winter staple, but this recipe is sure to change the mind of even the most weary summer stew eaters.  Packed with flavor and the essence of fresh shellfish, this will become your favorite new recipe.  The saffron and white wine add a charming depth that will take you back to the Catalan coast with one whiff of it’s perfume.  The liquor from the mussels and clams are some of the sweetest treasures that the sea has to offer, so be sure to serve baguette for soaking.  As beautiful as it is delicious, it’s the perfect recipe for entertaining with ease.  Spanish zarzuelas and French bouillabaisse are the original one pot meal, before the invention of the crock pot.  For optimal flavor, take your time sweating the vegetables.  I often recommend doing something else while it sweats so you almost forget about it.  Enjoy with a glass of Albarino or a nip of pastis if you’re feeling those mediterranean vibes.  Feeds four.     



1 med onion, small diced

1 head fennel, small diced

1 carrot, small diced

3 ribs celery, small diced

1 bag petite potatoes, halved

1 tablespoon minced garlic

½ teaspoon chili flake

3 fresh bay leaves

1 pinch saffron

1 cup white wine

26 oz diced tomatoes, preferably Pomi

48 oz chicken stock, or homemade

12 littleneck clams, scrubbed

12 mussels, scrubbed with beards removed

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

½ cup picked italian parsley, roughly chopped

¼ cup canola oil

1 orange for zesting

Kosher salt

High quality olive oil for finishing




  • sachet of 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 2 star anise, ½ bunch thyme, 1 sprig rosemary rosemary

  • Heat a dutch oven, or medium size stockpot, over medium heat

  • Once pot is heated, add ¼  cup canola oil. Allow to heat through

  • Add onion, fennel, carrot, and celery.  Sprinkle with kosher salt, this will help the vegetables cook faster.  Cook the vegetables, stirring regularly, until they are soft and have no crunch.  This should take about 25 minutes.

  • Add the garlic, chili flake, and bay leaves.  Toast for 2 mins making sure not to burn the garlic

  • Turn the heat up to high and pour in the white wine.  Add the saffron and reduce the white wine by half.

  • Add the stock, chopped tomatoes, and sachet (optional). Bring to a light simmer.

  • Cover and allow broth lightly simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally.  Note:  your goal is not to reduce the broth, but impart flavor

  • Remove the sachet from the broth and wring to get the full flavor from the herbs and spices (if applicable)

  • Add the potatoes and lightly simmer in the broth until they are three quarters of the way cooked

  • Add the shrimp, mussels, and clams to the broth, cover, and cook until the mussels and clams until they are barely open.  

  • Taste the broth for seasoning.  Add anywhere from 1-4 teaspoons of salt depending on the salinity of the muscles and clams

  • Stir in chopped parsley and the zest of half an orange  

  • Serve immediately with a fresh, sliced baguette and drizzle with a high quality olive oil


sarah adams