Italian Fish Stew with Barley


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Follow Me on Pinterest On the last trip to the market I found a great deal on tilapia. I brought home a package, dreaming of soup. The weather is cooled. The rains have come and I dream of soups.

Tilapia is such a mild white fish, you can go in any direction with seasonings and still love the results. I decided to pair it with Italian sausage. What a twosome! Combine the white fish with some hot Italian sausage. Mix in some roasted tomato sauce, white wine, onions, garlic, and zucchini. What do you have? An Italian soup, bursting with flavor!

For this soup I used roasted tomato sauce from the freezer. In last summer’s roasting process I added onions, peppers, onions, garlic and herbs. The end result tastes much like a pizza sauce. In the recipe below I put ingredients together assuming you do not have the same freezer stash available. If you do, just make the necessary adjustments with the recipe: less onion, garlic, and herbs.

The easiest route to this fish soup is to heat the broth and add all the ingredients except the fish. Cook the soup until all is as cooked as you want. Add the fish. It’s done in a flash. Break the fish up in small pieces and serve the soup. I’ve done lots of fish soup like this and it’s great, but the colors are faded and the flavors is not as intense as what I outline below.

This round I wanted a bit more flavor and I wanted to enjoy all the colors and textures possible.

We served this soup over scoops of cooked barley. The barley could have been cooked in the soup broth while the other ingredients were being prepared. But this soup was all about texture and I was able to preserve the chewiness of the barley with the approach below.

Italian Fish Stew Ingredients

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  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth

  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 cup Italian sausage, either mild or hot
  • 6 young zucchini, about 5 inches long, sliced into circles
  • 3 pounds white fish fillets like tilapia or red snapper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon slices and parsley for garnish
  • 4 cups cooked grain, like barley, brown rice, or quinoa

Italian Fish Stew Steps

  1. Combine the chicken broth and tomato paste in a large soup pot. Bring them to a simmer and then add the wine, rosemary and oregano. Push the soup pot to the back burner and keep it going at a very low simmer.

  2. Splash a little oil in a large skillet. Heat it up and saute the onion. When the onion is almost translucent, add 2/3 of the minced garlic. Stir a moment or two and then add the Italian sausage.
  3. Break up the sausage into small bits as it cooks. Cook over a low flame until the sausage just begins to brown.
  4. While the sausage is cooking, saute the zucchini with the rest of the garlic in another large skillet. Salt and pepper the zucchini as it cooks. Do not overcook it. You want the zucchini to keep its bright green color.
  5. As the sausage and the zucchini finish cooking, pull them to the side on a holding platter.
  6. Saute the fish in the same skillet the zucchini cooked in. There is still flavor in the pan and the fish will pick it up. Generously salt and pepper the fillets as they cook. Do not over cook and dry them out. When the fish is cooked, break it up in bite-sized pieces.
  7. Add the sausage mixture to the soup pot and stir.
  8. Add the zucchini to the pot and stir, gently.
  9. Gently add the fish and stir.
  10. Warm the soup over a low flame for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
  11. Serve in warmed bowls with cooked barley and garnished with lemon slices and parsley.

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  4. Roasted Green Tomato Soup
  5. Zucchini and Pepper Saute

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