Notes: For the most dramatic presentation, use 12 whole shrimp (with heads). They're readily found in Asian fish markets and frequently available in other fish markets. To preserve the shape of whole shrimp, devein and cook them in their shells. To devein, insert a thin wood skewer perpendicularly through the back of the shell, sliding it under the vein, then gently pull the skewer up from beneath to lift the vein out. Repeat in several places as needed.
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon fennel seed
3/4 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold or other thin-skinned potatoes
2 heads fennel (3 1/2 to 4 in. wide)
1/2 pound mussels in shells
1/2 to 3/4 pound shrimp (16 to 20 per lb.)
1 pound Chilean seabass
How to Make It
In a 6- to 8-quart pan, combine broth, wine, cream, fennel seed, and thyme.
Peel potatoes and thinly slice into pan. Cover pan and turn heat to high.
Trim tops from fennel and save the feathery greens. Trim off root ends, bruised areas, and coarse fibers from sides of fennel. Rinse and thinly slice fennel and add to soup. When mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are very tender when pierced, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse feathery fennel greens and chop.
Scrub mussels and pull off beards.
Shell, devein, and rinse shrimp.
Cut seabass into 1-inch chunks.
When potatoes are tender, add mussels. Cover and simmer 3 minutes. Add shrimp and seabass and simmer until mussels open, 3 to 5 minutes more. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with reserved fennel greens.