San Francisco-Style Seafood Stew

Toss this stew together, and let it simmer while you prep the rest of the holiday feast.
Publish date:
San Francisco–Style Seafood Stew

Recipe by Janet Taylor McCracken

Start to Finish: 1 Hour

Servings: 16


  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 tsp. each dried basil and dried thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 3 cups white wine
  • 4 large cans (28 oz. each) whole plum tomatoes with juices (not tomatoes in puree)
  • 4 cups (four 8-oz. bottles) clam juice
  • 3 lb. littleneck clams, Manila clams, and/or mussels, scrubbed
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 4 tbsp.)
  • 2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 lb. firm white fish (such as cod, halibut, or sea bass), cut into 2-inch pieces


1. Place 2 large pots on the stovetop. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in each pot over medium-high. Divide the onions between the pots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Divide the garlic, dried basil, dried thyme, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper between the pots and cook, stirring often, until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup wine to each pot and cook, stirring often, until reduced by half, 4 to 5 minutes. Divide the tomatoes with juices between the pots, crushing the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pots. Add 2 cups clam juice to each pot. Bring to a boil. Let simmer over low heat, partially covered, until the flavors deepen, about 30 minutes. (The base of the stew can be made up to 3 days ahead. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate. Bring the stew to a simmer before continuing with the recipe.)

2. Divide the clams between the pots. Add 1/2 cup wine to each pot. Cover the pots and cook until the clams open, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the clams to a large bowl. (Discard any clams that don’t open.) Stir 1/4 cup parsley and 2 tbsp. lemon juice into each pot. Divide the shrimp and fish between the pots. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the shrimp and fish are almost cooked through, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Return the clams to the pots, dividing equally. Cover and cook just until the clams are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide among bowls and top with the remaining parsley. 

Get the full 16-person holiday dinner menu