Recipe: Seafood Stew

seafood stew | via vmac+cheese

Hello, my name is Victoria, and I’m a seafood addict. Shellfish has always been my favorite type of protein — I love it in all forms (mollusks, crustaceans, and all their ilk). I have thanked my lucky stars more than once that I am not allergic to shellfish, because this would be a gastronomic tragedy indeed.

Joe, I’m sorry to say, has never experienced the love affair with seafood like I have. Mostly for one hilarious reason: he doesn’t really love touching his food and getting his hands messy (recently, some friends of ours took us to one of those crab boil places, where they dump all the seafood out on the table and you go to town peeling and eating. It was kind of Joe’s worst nightmare).

So this past Sunday, when I was craving shellfish but knew there was no way the mister would want to indulge a peel-and-eat binge at home, I jumped on his suggestion of a seafood stew. “Don’t worry,” I told him, “No peeling required.”

I ended up making what’s probably been my favorite stew ever — it was luxurious tasting, but still somehow pretty healthy, smelled divine while cooking, and was made all the better with a cold glass of white wine. This stew would be a great thing to make over a weekend (and especially if you’re entertaining a crowd!), but really, you could also prep the base for it, reheat that part after work one day, and throw in the seafood of your choice for an easy weeknight meal. Here’s how I made it:

recipe for seafood stew | via vmac+cheese

Seafood Stew
Serves 4-6

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, white and light green part rinsed thoroughly and finely chopped
1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, peeled and small diced
1 small bulb of fennel, diced (including fronds and leaves)
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, small diced
1 red bell paper, seeded and small diced
1 large shallot, peeled sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 quart seafood or fish stock (see note)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flake (more, to taste)
pinch of saffron (see note)
Bouquet garni of 1 sprig of rosemary, 5 sprigs of thyme, and 3 stems of parsley, tied together with butchers twine
10-12 baby potatoes, halved (I used 1″ potatoes)
1 1/2 pounds of littleneck clams, cleaned
1/2 lb calamari, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lobster tail (approx. 3oz), shelled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 lb bay scallops
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used U-15 shrimp, and removed the tails as well)
— kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
— lemon wedges and chopped parsley for garnish

What to do:
In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add in the leek, the onion, the fennel, the garlic, the carrots, the red pepper, and the shallot. Season well with salt and pepper, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables have significantly reduced in volume and are very soft. Brown caramelized bits may also form on the bottom of the pot.

Pour in the white wine and stir, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits. Cook for 1-2 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate from the mixture. Add in the crushed tomatoes, the seafood stock, the crushed red pepper flakes, and the saffron. Add in the potatoes and the herb bundle. Gently stir, and season again with salt and pepper (remember — you can always add more seasoning later, if it needs it). Cover the pot, bring to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to low. Allow to cook for 30 minutes. If you are serving the seafood stew on another day, you can cool the mixture at this point and store it for later use.

Once the broth has come together, remove the lid and add the littleneck clams. Cover again and cook for six minutes, until the clams are just beginning to open. Then, add in the rest of the seafood: the calamari, the lobster, the scallops, and the shrimp. Cook for another 5-6 minutes, until the seafood is just cooked through and tender. Serve with lemon wedges (the bright lemon juice is the perfect final touch!), a dusting of chopped parsley, and lots of crusty bread to sop up any extra broth.

Recipe Notes: Saffron is notoriously expensive, though in all honesty, it really adds something special to this stew. I was able to find a small vial of it at Whole Foods for $5.99, and had plenty leftover for the next time I need any. Seafood stock or fish stock can often be found at the fish counter, or a local fish shop — also, check the frozen aisle as sometimes you can find it there. My store didn’t have any, so I used a concentrated version that I added water to, and while I was skeptical, it tasted really good. You can use chicken stock as a replacement, but just be aware that it’s not going to taste the same. For the seafood, note that you can really use any variety of fish and shellfish that you want. Mussels, chunks of cod or halibut, sea scallops, crab — whatever is your favorite or looks good that day!


  1. 3.7.13

    Hello my name is Tiffany and I’m addicted to shellfish, too. :) I about died when you posted this on Instagram. This looks amazing and I will definitely have to make it!

  2. 3.7.13

    i pretty much live off something like this everyday on Whole30

  3. 3.7.13

    This looks delicious, especially bc I’m freezing right now!! xo, Julie

  4. 3.7.13
    christin said:

    why why why why am i allergic to mollusks!?!?!?!

    • 3.7.13
      vmacandcheese said:

      Duderino! Make it with fish and shrimp…and maybe crab?

  5. 3.7.13

    This looks delicious and combines almost all of my favorite things! On the list to make!

    Luci’s Morsels – fashion. food. frivolity.

  6. 3.7.13
    Kristina said:

    This looks so good!! I’m also weirdly against those places where they dump everything out onto the table, but mainly because all of the little crabs still have their eyes – makes me feel guilty eating them!


    Kristina does the Internets

  7. 3.7.13
    Ashley said:

    That looks delicious! My fiance is exactly the same way. He doesn’t like touching his food. We went to BBQ last night and he was trying to get the meat off the ribs with fork and knife! haha!

  8. 3.7.13
    Kayla said:

    I think I would totally be a seafood addict too.. if I lived near a place with actual seafood.. haha.. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.. can you please come to my kitchen?? : )


  9. 3.7.13
    Emily said:

    this sounds AMAZING! can’t wait to try it :) x

  10. 3.7.13

    Mel’s been waiting on this recipe to appear on your blog after seeing your photo as he peered over my shoulder while I was scrolling through Instagram. You’re probably going to win me girlfriend of the year award with this one!

  11. 3.7.13

    This looks SO good! Yum!!!

  12. 3.7.13

    I want this is my mouth now. I totally want to make this this weekend, but, admittedly, don’t have a ton of faith in my cooking skills to deliver such a tasty looking meal full of things I’m not familiar with! I guess I’ll give it a shot and see what happens. Could be interesting. ;)

  13. 3.7.13
    Alyssa said:

    OH. MY. YUM! I’m a serious seafood addict too (I make a mean paella!) but I’ve never made a soup before. I can’t wait to make this this weekend!

  14. 3.7.13
    Steph said:

    Sorry I just drooled on your blog. Anyway, any suggestions as to what I can sub for the bell pepper for weirdos who are allergic to those (ahem!). Or should I skip it entirely?

    • 3.7.13
      vmacandcheese said:

      Just skip! :)

  15. 3.7.13

    Pinned! Thanks Victoria, can’t wait to try! :)

  16. 3.7.13

    This looks insanely amazing!!! I must give it a try

  17. 3.7.13
    Alexa said:

    Yum! I kind of love seafood too. Though I can’t eat shellfish while pregnant. :( Love linguine with mussels though!

  18. 3.7.13

    At the grocery store the other day they had this raw seafood mix of everything and I immediately thought “I hope Victoria posts that recipe soon”. THANK YOU. I have a long weekend ahead of me that will definitely involve some seafood stew.

    Also as a side note, my bf Luke is the opposite of Joe. He doesn’t care about touching his food, and even when it’s not required, it somehow ends up all over his hands. And shirt, and also usually the floor. Wait, am I describing a toddler? Um. no…

  19. 3.7.13

    This is right up my alley. I tried another recipe once- similar, but the broth didn’t look half as appealing. This appears to have both the bit of heat and rich tawny color that I’m after. I can’t wait to dunk some crusty bread into that bowl.

  20. 3.7.13
    Fabianna said:

    Wow, this looks so fancy but yet so doable! I am definitely giving this recipe a try on a cold day. The boy and I are total seafood lovers, too! :)

  21. 3.7.13
    Meghan said:

    This looks so very delicious , love seafood too :)

    xo Meg<3

    Meghan Silva’s Blog

  22. 3.7.13
    Natalie said:

    This looks like the perfect combination of a seafood stew and a seafood paella recipe that I LOVE! Can’t wait to make this!

    Name’s Not Ashley

  23. 3.7.13

    Ummm this sounds just divine…I absolutely LOVE shellfish as well but we don’t have it that often! I will definitely be trying this out! Thanks for sharing!

  24. 3.8.13

    I am also a seafood addict! This looks amazing- will have to pin it and make it sometime soon. Thanks for the recipe- always looking for new things to cook.

  25. 3.11.13

    This looks so delicious! I love shellfish too–I’d probably throw in some crab legs for good measure. ;)


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