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Rach shares her family's Cioppino recipe from her cookbook, Everyone Is Italian on Sunday—a hearty winter seafood stew that they make for their Christmas Eve dinner.
Make the soup base: In a large braising pot or wide, deep skillet with a lid, heat the oil (3 turns of the pan) over medium high heat. Add the fennel, carrot, onion, celery, garlic, leek, salt and pepper. Add the herb bundle, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir for one minute. Add the Pernod and let it almost evaporate. Add the vermouth and cook until reduces by half. Add the stock. Hand-crush the tomatoes as you add them to the pot then add in the juice from the can. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
Make the shellfish: When you are almost ready to serve, increase the heat a bit under the soup base to keep it at a low rolling boil. Add the shrimp, crab, clams and mussels. Cover the pot and cook until the clams and mussel shells open and the shrimp are opaque, 6-8 minutes. Discard any clams and/or mussels that do not open.
Make the fish and scallops: In a shallow bowl, stir the Wondra and Old Bay. Season the fish and scallops with salt and pepper then dredge them in the flour mixture. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of the oil (1 turn of the pan) over medium-high heat. Melt in 1 tablespoon of butter. When the foam subsides, add half the fish and scallops, and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Transfer to a warm plate. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and cook the remaining fish and scallops.
Warm shallow bowls to serve in. Remove the herb bundle. Ladle the stew into the bowls and set chunks of fish and scallops on top. Garnish with fennel fronds. Place EVOO and red pepper flakes at the table for topping. Serve with plenty of crusty bread.