Fish and Seafood Stew with White Beans
1 750 ml bottle dry white wine
3 cups vegetable stock
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly-ground pepper
2 large onions, cut into large dice
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 15-ounce can small-dice tomatoes in juice
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (you can use 3 cans if you’d like it really thick and stew-ey)
2 pounds firm white fish, cut into 1-inch pieces
18 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
18 small clams, scrubbed
Optional topping: 1 cup panko bread crumbs mixed with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt, browned in a non-stick skillet until the crumbs are golden.
Measure out 3 tablespoons of the wine and set it aside. Combine the remaining wine and vegetable stock in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and boil the mixture for 30 minutes. There should be about 4 cups of liquid left.
In the meantime, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onions and carrots along with some salt and pepper and saute until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Mix in the tomato paste, turn up the heat a little, and cook for two minutes or so. You’ll see the tomato paste darken in color. Add the thyme and the tomatoes and their juice and simmer for 5 minutes.
By this time the wine/stock mixture should have cooked for its half hour. Add the mixture to the Dutch oven, along with the beans. Bring the whole thing to a boil, and simmer uncoverd for 15 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash up some of the beans to make the base a bit thicker if you like (this is optional). Taste again for salt and pepper. It’s OK if it’s a little under-salted because the mussels and clams will add a little salt water when they open.
Gently stir the fish into the stew and arrange the mussels and clams on top and pour the reserved 3 tablespoons of wine over everything. Put the lid on and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 3 minutes, then check to see if the seafood is opening. Give it a couple of additional minutes to cook if necessary, then discard any mussels and clams that haven’t opened.
Serve the stew in large bowls with 3 clams and 3 mussels on top of each portion. Sprinkle on the browned bread crumbs if you’re using them. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top of each serving. Pass the lemon wedges.