This cozy Sicilian Fish Stew is the perfect hearty dinner for the holidays. With a variety of Italian flavors and a touch of Arabic influence, this stew strikes the perfect balance between sweet, salty and sour.

Photograph of fish stew in in a white bowl with a gold spoon.

I decided to feature this elegant Italian tomato fish stew in this year’s Christmas Menu as a very loose homage to the traditional holiday meal, Dinner of the Seven Fishes. Emphasis on loose.

But a stew this packed with flavor and texture is really all you need to be happily satisfied. But add a fresh Shaved Fennel Salad and a chunk of bread and you’re set. Truly, it’s all you need, plus it’s elegant to boot.

What goes with Italian fish stew?

I’ve prepared a complete menu to answer just this question! You can mix and match and create a menu that’s as big or as small as you’d like. The most streamlined menu includes the Shaved Fennel Salad, baguette, Sicilian Fish Stew and a good bottle of wine.

Photograph of fish stew in in a white bowl with a gold spoon.

Cozy Christmas Dinner Menu

Snack:

Cocktail:

Appetizer Ideas:

Wine:

  • Dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Dry German Riesling, Pinot Gris

Salad:

Entree:

  • Sicilian Fish Stew

Dessert Ideas:

Nightcap: Fig Infused Bourbon

Photograph of Christmas dinner spread, featuring fish stew and fennel salad on gray table.

How long does fish stew keep?

If you have leftovers, fish stew can last up to 2 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I do not recommend freezing fish stew.

How to reheat fish stew.

Reheat fish stew either on the stovetop over low heat or reheat individual bowls in the microwave for 2 minutes on high.  

What’s the best kind of fish to use in fish stew?

Firm white-flesh fish, such as cod, halibut, snapper or sea bass is most often used for stews like this. However, through testing, America’s Test Kitchen found “tasters felt that the snapper’s mild flavor was lost amid the bold flavors of the stew and preferred the stronger flavor and meaty texture of swordfish.”

The challenge then, with any type of fish, lies in not overcooking it and not breaking it up into small pieces. To combat the repetitive tale of overcooked fish, ATK decided to add 1-inch chunks of fish to the stew towards the very end of cooking. This recipe calls for partially cooking the fish in the simmering stew, then letting it finish cooking via residual heat from the covered Dutch oven.

Perfectly cooked fish. Every. Single. Time. Plus, when tender swordfish is served in a tomato broth laced with raisins, capers, wine and clam juice, you know it’s got to be good.

Photograph of fish stew in in a white bowl with a gold spoon.

Is fish stew healthy?

Like I say with a lot of things, not all fish stews are created equal. But this particular fish stew is definitely on the healthier side.

There’s little added fat (of which is heart healthy) and the flavorful broth is made from minced vegetables and tomatoes. What’s more, the swordfish adds lean protein, making this meal healthy and satisfying.

Photograph of fish stew in in a white bowl with a gold spoon.

In celebration of ZK’s Annual Cookbook Gift Guide, I’m sharing this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s new cookbook, “Cook It in Your Dutch OvenSpoiler alert, this book is featured in my gift guide.

Not only that, I’ll be giving away a copy of this book, packed with foolproof recipes that are both weeknight friendly and weekend projects, to one lucky follower! If you’re interested in entering for a chance to win, be sure to follow ZK on Instagram for giveaway updates.

Make sure to tag me @ZESTFULKITCHEN ON INSTAGRAM or comment below if you make this Sicilian Fish Stew! 

To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can click the button on any of the photos, or the red button on the side bar or below the recipe. Happy cooking!

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Photograph of fish stew in in a white bowl with a gold spoon.

Sicilian Fish Stew

  • Author: Lauren Grant of Zestful Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Description

This cozy Sicilian Fish Stew is the perfect hearty dinner for the holidays. With a variety of Sicilian flavors and a touch of Arabic influence, this stew strikes the perfect balance between sweet, salty and sour. Featuring an aromatic tomato broth, tender swordfish, raisins, and capers, this is one flavor-packed stew.


Ingredients

Scale
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped fine
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes (28-ounces), drained with juice reserved, chopped coarse
  • 2 bottles clam juice (8-ounces each)
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • pounds skinless swordfish steaks, 1 to 1½ inches thick, cut into 1-inch pieces

Instructions

Combine pine nuts, mint, one-quarter of garlic, and orange zest in bowl; set aside for serving. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in thyme, pepper flakes, and remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in wine and reserved tomato juice, bring to simmer, and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, clam juice, raisins, and capers, return to simmer, and cook until flavors meld, about 15 minutes.

Season swordfish with salt and pepper. Add swordfish to pot and spoon some cooking liquid over top. Bring to simmer and cook for 4 minutes. Off heat, cover and let sit until swordfish flakes apart when gently prodded with paring knife, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, sprinkling individual bowls with pine nut mixture.


Notes

What equipment you’ll need:

Dutch oven

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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  1. “Food Scientist” or not this recipe strikes me as skimpy on the base and not as hearty or zesty if you will as many true Sicilian Fish Soup Recipes especially holiday ones and a shaved fennel salad? Makes it “Perfect” don’t think so! My recipe the fennel is sweated out with other vegetables and added to the soup! Fish lasts longer they 2 days in a good refrigerator also.

    1. Hi Jeffrey—if you read the post you might notice this recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen as I was helping to promote one of their many incredible cookbooks. As a previous employee, I know how strenuous their testing and research process is for recipes, and I’m sorry to hear your didn’t enjoy it. And yes, I am a Culinary Food Scientist, without the quotations, and I’m very proud of my training and education.
      You might not like my pairing of a fennel salad with this soup, but, as you know, fennel and fish pair wonderfully. This salad is a great option for those who want a fresh, flavorful side with their stew. It sounds like you prefer fennel in your Sicilian Fish Stew—I recently shared a fish soup recipe which features fennel in it. Though you might want to look elsewhere if you want a Sicilian Fish Stew that features fennel.
      As for storage, sure the fish stew can safely last longer than 2 days (the USDA recommends 3–4 days at the most), but the quality of the soup is best within the first 2 days. I prefer to recommend my readers enjoy leftovers at their best.