Photo by Tom McCorkle and food styling by Bonnie S Benwick; for The Washington Post
This big, nourishing bowl of comfort food is easy to make, yet it has an unmistakable elegance that makes it as wonderful for everyday eating as it is for serving to company. It’s super convenient because you can make the base ahead so all you need to do when you are ready to eat is add the fish. The stew’s base can be refrigerated two days in advance, or frozen for up to 2 months.
1 medium fennel bulb, preferably with stalks and fronds
1 navel orange, well scrubbed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion (about 5 ounces), diced
1 medium carrot, scrubbed well and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
One 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, plus the juices
3 cups fish stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup pitted green olives, sliced
1 1/2 pounds skinless cod fillets, cut into 1-inch chunks
Remove the stalks and fronds from the fennel bulb, reserving some of the fronds for garnish. Save the stalks for making stock or discard them. Remove and discard the core and the tough outer layer of the fennel bulb. Coarsely chop the rest of the fennel.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove 2 strips of zest from the orange, measuring 1-by-3 inches, being careful not to include any white pith. Then squeeze half the orange to yield 3 tablespoons of juice, reserving it to add later.
In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan and stir to coat; cook until they have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped fennel bulb and the garlic; cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the tomato paste.
Add the tomatoes with their juices, the fish stock, bay leaf, strips of orange zest, salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the fennel is tender, about 25 minutes. Discard the strips of orange zest and the bay leaf.
(At this point, the stew base can be cooled, transferred to a covered container and refrigerated a day in advance, or frozen.)
When you are ready to serve, return the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then add the olives and the fish. Once the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily. Stir in the reserved orange juice and remove from the heat.
Serve hot, garnished with some reserved fennel fronds.
Makes 5 Servings
Serving size: about 1 3/4 cups
Per serving: Calories 250; Total Fat 9g; (Sat Fat 1g); Protein 29g; Carb 16g; Fiber 4g; Cholesterol 65mg; Sodium 600mg; Total Sugar 9g