Warming Up In The South of France
Provencal Seafood Stew
As January temperatures dip down and the wind starts to create billows of snow in the air, a craving for hearty warming meals comes to call. December’s holiday cheer, decadent meals and festive activities wasn’t actually that long ago. Here’s a recipe that will curb those cravings and keep you from dreading stepping on the scale.
Provence is a region of southeastern France, connected to the Mediterranean Sea and Italy. Their food is influenced more by Italy than traditional French fare. The meals are simple, concentrating on sun ripened vegetables, fresh herbs and seafood.
Though, I will admit, this dish looks enchanting and maybe a bit complicated – it’s not! There is some chopping, but it’s just a matter of adding the ingredients into the soup pot. The ingredients are what makes it so special: Tomatoes, Carrots, Potatoes, Green Peppers, Fresh Sea Bass, Shrimp, Mussels and plenty of Fresh Herbs. Serve it with a fresh baguette dipped in your favorite olive oil. This is a perfect dish for entertaining. Create it a day ahead to the point in the recipe just before you add the seafood. Reheat, add your seafood. You’re done within minutes!
Instead of a hearty meal that sticks to your bones, you’ll be warmed to the tips of your toes from its abundance of light fresh flavors.
Heat a 6-8 quart soup kettle over medium low heat.
Once the pot is heated, add the olive oil. Five minutes later, or once the oil is heated, add the onions and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes or until the onions start to turn translucent.
Adding The Vegetables
Add the potatoes, carrots, clam juice, tomatoes and wine to the pot. Bring to a boil.
Reduce to simmer and continue cooking (uncovered) for about 40 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes have become tender.
*Can be done to this part a day ahead.
Adding the Fish & Fresh Herbs
Add the green bell pepper and the mussels to the soup kettle and simmer (covered) for 2-3 minutes or until mussels open.
Add the sea bass, shrimp, tarragon and chives. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes or until fish and shrimp are cooked through (covered).
Add sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste. Serve in warm soup bowls.
Sauvignon Blanc or Fume Blanc: Pinot Gris or Grisgio
Mussels: Fresh Clams or a 14 oz. can of whole clams
Sea Bass: Halibut, Cod or Haddock
Fresh Tarragon and Chives: The fresh flavors derived from fresh herbs are an important element to this stew. But, if you’re in a pinch, use 1 tablespoon dry tarragon and 2 teaspoons dry chives.
Wine Pairing Suggestions: Serve with which ever wine you chose for the stew or a Cote du Rhone