Clams, rinsed and well cleaned (littlenecks are a nice size for stew)
Mussels, rinsed beard removed
white fish cut in 1-inch cubes (halibut and rock cod preferred)
Large Shrimp, shelled and deveined
Calamari, bodies cut into rings, tentacles left whole
Pour olive oil into large stainless steel stock pot over medium heat. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, pepper flakes, carrot and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes, until softened and golden. With a wooden spoon, stir the tomato paste so that it sticks briefly to the bottom of the pan. Deglaze with vermouth and cook until reduced by half. Add chopped tomatoes (with their juice) and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes before adding stock or clam juice. Season stew with salt and pepper. Simmer again until broth thickens slightly, about 20-30 minutes.
About 20 minutes before serving, add crab, clams and chopped herbs to the pot. Adjust heat to resume a good simmer while you add cold fish and shellfish. When clams begin to open, about 5 minutes, add mussels, fish and scallops. When mussels begin to open, add shrimp and calamari, and cook about 3 minutes. Stew is ready when shrimp are tender and lightly cooked, calamari tentacles are umbrella shaped, and all clams and mussels are open (discard any that aren't). Divide crab and fish into serving bowls and ladle the soup. Serve with grilled rustic bread.