Tomato based shellfish stew
To make the shellfish stock, warm olive oil in a pot - I used a medium-sized Le Creuset - and add your shellfish shells. Garten uses one pound of shrimp shells but I used two handfuls (not an exact measurement) of crab legs, chopped onion, carrot, and celery.
Cook for around 15 minutes until you get a bit of colour on the veg. Now add the garlic and cook another minute or so. You don't want the garlic to burn as it becomes bitter so add the chopped garlic once the onion has already softened.
Add 1 litre of water, the wine, thyme sprigs, tomato paste, ground black pepper and salt. Simmer for an hour.
Strain in a sieve. You should now have enough stock for the soup but if you don't you can make up the required amount with water or wine.
Begin by heating the olive oil gently and then add the chopped onion and fennel, and saute until softened.
Next, add the fennel seeds, garlic and pepper flakes. Garten's recipe calls for red pepper flakes. I had pul biber flakes which are a bit milder than some varieties of red pepper flakes. Taste as you go along to see if your soup has the right level of heat for you. Some like it hotter than others. You can always add more if you need to. Cook gently for a couple of minutes.
Add two tins of chopped tomatoes. These differ quite a bit in intensity I find and I try to use one of the Italian brands like Cirio.
Add the shellfish stock.
Add the wine, salt and pepper
Now it is a simple matter of allowing the broth to simmer away for about half an hour. I left it overnight in the fridge so that the next day I only had to add the fish and shellfish. However, this step is not necessary unless you want to get ahead.
When you are ready to eat, add the fish and shellfish to the broth, placing the fish in first, followed by the shellfish. Leave it to come to the boil and then simmer, covered, no stirring. I thought my prawns were slightly overcooked so next time I might add these a few minutes into the 8 - 10 minutes Garten recommends for the fish and shellfish to cook. My prawns were not huge - some kinds are - so be guided by the size. I used frozen shellfish which had been precooked but if you are using fresh, always discard any mussels or clams that have not opened after cooking.
Garten recommends stirring in a spoon of Pernod at this point. I found a bottle of Pastis in the back of my cupboard and used that as it has a similar aniseed flavour.
You can now garnish with a flourish of chopped flat leaf parsley.
I always use my largest Le Creuset pot for making stews as it is a generous size and I can bring this attractive dish straight to the table to serve.
I found Ina Garten's recipe on the internet and followed it as closely as I could with the ingredients I had to hand. If you have clam juice you could use that but as I did not, I made a shellfish stock based on her recipe, substituting crab legs for shrimp shells.