Seafood Pot au Feu


This robust seafood stew will feed a crowd.


  • 2 1-pound lobsters

  • 2 small leeks, white and light-green parts only

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled

  • 1 celery stalk, peeled to remove strings

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 medium onion, cut into ¼ -inch dice

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted

  • 8 thyme sprigs

  • 4 tarragon sprigs

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 4 whole canned tomatoes, broken up

  • 10 flat-leaf parsley sprigs

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • 12 sea scallops (¾ pound), cleaned

  • 1 pound halibut or other firm white fish, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes

  • ½ bunch watercress, leaves only

  • 2 tablespoons sauternes (optional)


  1. Bring a stockpot of water to a boil over high heat. Add lobsters, cover, and cook 3 minutes; drain. Hold lobsters with a towel and twist off tails and claws. Remove meat from tails and claws; refrigerate. Reserve lobster shells and bodies.

  2. Cut 1 leek into 1/4 inch dice; let stand in a bowl of water for 5 minutes. Lift out of water; drain. Chop 1 carrot, celery, half the fennel, and 1 clove garlic into 1/4 inch dice.

  3. Heat 1 teaspoon butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped leek, onion, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, fennel seeds, 6 sprigs thyme, and tarragon; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and aromatic, 3 to 4 minutes. Add lobster shells and bodies; cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Add wine, bay leaf, tomatoes, parsley, and 8 cups water. Raise heat to high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low; simmer until very flavorful, 1 hour.

  5. Meanwhile, halve remaining leek and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place in a bowl of water for 5 minutes; lift out of water and drain. Slice remaining carrots into 1/8-inch-thick matchsticks. Cut remaining fennel into 1/4-inch dice. Using the side of a knife, smash remaining garlic clove; set vegetables aside.

  6. Remove stock from heat and strain, pressing on solids. Discard solids.

  7. Melt remaining 2 teaspoons butter in a large shallow saucepan over medium heat. Add sliced leeks, carrots, fennel, garlic, remaining 2 sprigs of thyme, salt, and pepper; cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Add stock; raise heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low; simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, slice lobster-tail meat into medallions but leave claw meat whole; set aside. Add scallops and halibut to stock; adjust heat to maintain bare simmer and poach for about 1 minute. Add lobster meat, adjust heat again, and poach until fish is opaque and lobster is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Discard garlic clove and thyme sprigs. Stir in watercress and sauternes, if using. Serve immediately.

Cook's Notes

One-pound lobsters (chicks) and lobsters with only one claw (culls) are the least expensive ones; use either kind in this seafood stew.

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