Simple Fish Stew

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This easy fish stew is packed with tons to flavor and easy to make. Full of flaky white fish, vegetables, and spices in a garlicky tomato broth makes an incredible meal.

325 CAL 19g CARBS 8g FAT 44g PROTEIN 2

This simple Fish Stew is one of our family favorites. It's easy to make and tastes like something you would find in a fancy restaurant. Make it with any fish or seafood you love and serve it with a Kale Ceasar Salad for a perfect meal.

Two Christmases ago, my aunt made an incredible fish stew that honestly I have been thinking about every single day since then. I asked her for the recipe gobs of times and unfortunately, she was never able to find it. However, she was able to tell me the basics: That it contained tomato, lots of garlic, onion, celeriac (celery root), carrots, and would work with whatever combination of spices you were in the mood for.

While it definitely wasn't a complete recipe, it at least was a start and honestly was a pretty good recollection considering she has cooked countless meals since then. I took what I knew and tweaked the recipe until I got as close as I could to her original dish — and I think it's pretty darn close!

Here is my version of her simple fish stew. I served mine over some couscous but it would be great on its own or over brown rice or pasta. Also, although this recipe has a lot of ingredients, it really isn't nearly as complicated as a lot of other fish stew recipes, I promise!

Fish stew in white bowl with red snapper, veggies, tomato broth, and fresh herbs with bread on the side.

What Makes This Fish Stew Healthy?

Fish is a great source of lean protein and the rest of the ingredients are just packed so full of nutrients, the only thing that could make this dish unhealthy would be to overload it with a bunch of butter, cream, or sodium. But you're not going to want to do that because this dish really shines all on its own.

  • Red snapper is a lean protein and also low in calories. It also contains vitamin A, selenium omega-3s, and potassium. Studies suggest eating two servings of fish a week can be great for your heart.
  • Celery is low calorie, low fat, and have zero cholesterol. They are a great way to get in your fiber; folate; vitamins A, C, K, and B6; and magnesium as well as iron.
  • While celery root is related to celery, it is itself a root vegetable and not actual celery. It has lots of nutrients, including antioxidants; riboflavin; vitamins A, C, K, and B6; fiber; calcium; magnesium; and phosphorus; and is low in cholesterol and fat.
  • You've probably heard carrots are great for your eyes and that's true! They are a great source of beta-carotene (thanks to that delicious orange color) and antioxidants. They are also a good source of fiber, vitamin K, potassium, and are low in calories and have zero fat.
  • Onions are a must-have in most meals in my book and they go so great with garlic. In addition to making any dish extra flavorful, they are also low calorie, low fat, and high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, and antioxidants.
  • Tomato paste and tomatoes give you a healthy dose of all that cancer-fighting lycopene, vitamins C, A, and K, and the fiber and water content that are necessary for a healthy digestive system.
  • Spices such as thyme, bay leaves, and parsley give your body lots of healthy antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties with zero calories or fat.
  • Garlic has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, thanks to a nutrient called allicin. Garlic is also proven to be great for your health (while maybe not so great for your breath). It is good for controlling your cholesterol levels and keeps your blood flowing smoothly through your body.
  • Fish stock is a great source of iodine, and it is a good source of omega-3 healthy fats, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals that you might not get from chicken and beef stock.

What can you substitute for fish stock?

In my opinion, using fish stock is a must when making fish dishes like this fish stew. Chicken and beef broth just won't meld with the flavors like fish will with...well, fish. You can make your own or use the concentrated kind that you add water to reconstitute. You can also use bottled clam juice if you don't have fish stock.

Fish sauce isn't the same as fish stock so don't make the mistake of using one for the other. Fish sauce is super salty and made from anchovies and would be disgusting as a broth. If you are really stuck try veggie stock and then chicken stock (in that order). They'll work okay, you just will be missing that deep seafood flavor I think this dish really benefits from.

Side Dishes to Serve with Fish Stew

I like to eat this stew by itself or over some couscous. It would also be great over white or brown rice or whole wheat pasta. You could also eat it in a dish alone with a nice crusty French bread or sourdough roll. If you'd like to add a veggie side, consider a simple salad or some roasted or grilled vegetables.

Simple fish stew with carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in a bowl with a napkin on the side.

Tips for Making Fish Stew

  • Make it spicy by adding some red pepper flakes or a splash of Tabasco sauce to your stew.
  • Add more seafood! It's delicious with shrimp, clams, mussels, and more. 
  • If you can't find fish stock, you can use a bottle of clam juice and chicken broth. No one will ever know.
  • This works with all different kinds of fish - haddock, cod, halibut, and even salmon.
  • If you are using frozen fish, it will likely need a little extra time to cook.
  • This soup freezes well so don't be afraid to make a double or triple batch. Reheat slowly in the microwave or stovetop.
  • For a heartier soup, consider adding some brown rice or orzo. You can also add white beans or potatoes.
The Recipe
Fish stew with red snapper, carrots, onions, celery root, and herbs in a tomato broth with bread on the side.

Simple Fish Stew

325 CAL 19g CARBS 8g FAT 44g PROTEIN 2
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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 celery root, chopped (can also use potato)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 14 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups fish stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1.5 lbs red snapper, chopped (or other firm white fish)
  • Salt and pepper

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Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and celery root (or potato). Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onion begins to become translucent.


Stir in the garlic and parsley. Continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.


Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, fish stock, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring a simmer and cook until the celery root (or potato) is tender, about 15 minutes.


Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper. Add the fish the stew and cook 5-10 minutes until white and flaky.


Serve on its own with toasted crusty bread or over whole wheat couscous, brown rice, or even pasta.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1.5-2 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 325
Calories from Fat 74
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 65mg
Sodium 710mg
Total Carbohydrate 19g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 8g
Protein 44g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.


This stew freezes well and can be stored in individual containers for later use.
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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Simple Fish Stew
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April 4, 2019 - 17:48
How do you make fish stock
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April 5, 2019 - 09:08
You could make it homemade but I normally just buy it. I can find it in my grocery store where the soup and chicken broth is located.
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