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This traditional San Francisco recipe for seafood stew in tomato broth gets an update with fennel, saffron, a glug of wine, and plenty of olive oil, and it makes enough to feed a crowd.


1 pound raw clams in their shells (450 grams)

1 pound raw mussels in their shells (450 grams)

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for finishing the soup

1/4 teaspoon gently packed saffron threads, crumbled

a handful of fresh thyme sprigs

1 large onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

1 large fennel bulb, fronds removed and reserved for garnish, bulb thinly sliced

3 large cloves garlic

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 can diced tomatoes (28-ounce)

1 can diced tomatoes (14-ounce)

2 cups dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)

broth from cooking the clams and mussels (see below)

2 cups vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

1/2 pound cooked, peeled shrimp (225 grams)

1 pound white fish (such as Tilapia), cut into 1-inch chunks (450 grams)

a handful of parsley leaves and fennel fronds

cracked black pepper

lemon wedges


Place the clams and mussels in a steamer basket set in a pot over 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a simmer, steaming the mollusks until they open. Remove the mollusks and strain and reserve the broth.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saffron over a medium flame until the oil shimmers, then add the thyme, onion, and fennel. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, 10 minutes, then stir in the garlic, cook for 1 minute, and add the salt, tomatoes, white wine, mollusk steaming water, vegetable stock, and bay leaf. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

Add the fish and continue to simmer until cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Add the shrimp, mussels, and clams and cook to heat them through. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if you feel the soup needs it.

Ladle the soup into wide bowls and top with a good drizzle of olive oil, a shower of parsley leaves and fennel fronds, a few turns of black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.

Leftover soup keeps well, refrigerated airtight, for up to 2 days.

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