Tuesday, January 12, 2010

San Fran Stew: Cioppino

A couple of years ago my husband and I were watching a Food Network special that spoke about the history of Cioppino (pronounced “chuh-pee-noh”). This fish stew has an interesting origin, as it was developed by Italian fishermen in San Francisco in the late 1800's. The fishermen would all “chip in” their catch of the day to a collective soup pot to create seafood stew, similar to a French bouillabaisse (less the saffron).

My husband orders Cioppino occasionally when we dine at seafood restaurants. Most recently, we shared some with our friend Sarah while dining at Beretta in San Francisco.

I had been intending to make Cioppino at home, but had not taken the time to sort through different recipes. I was delighted to find a Cioppino recipe while I was flipping through my new copy of Ellie Krieger’s So Easy. I flagged the page, bought my seafood (and for such a steal at Trader Joe’s! ), and made this over the weekend to get us through a few dinners this week.

It smelled delicious while it was cooking, it was ridiculously easy to make, and my husband loved it. It wasn’t even mealtime when I finished it (we were somewhere between lunch and dinner), and I had to stop him from eating a whole bowl. He actually said to me, “Kate, I love everything that you cook. But I haven’t been this surprised by something you’ve made since you made Chicken Scallopine with Saffron Cream Sauce for the first time.” (And that was two years ago!) Needless to say, this Cioppino is making it into the regular rotation! I actually can’t wait until we’ve eaten it all up so that I can make it again!

(Adapted from Ellie Krieger’s So Easy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (6 oz.) jar tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 (14.5 oz.) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 cup fish stock or water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ - 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (you may want to remove the tails, too)
½ - 1 pound scallops
½ - 1 pound skinless halibut fillet, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Fresh bread for serving

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, an additional 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices and the fish stock (or water) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, for 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, salt, and pepper. (This base may be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

Heat the soup base to a boil. Add the shrimp, scallops, and halibut. Reduce the heat and simmer, until everything is just cooked, about 5 minutes. Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with the parsley. Serve with bread.


  1. I finally tried this for Saturday lunch - it's another "oh, so yummy!" Dad says it has a delicious flavor...it's a keeper!

  2. I love it! It was so easy to make also. Even my picky husband ate it.

  3. This looks soooo good ... will have to make this one myself since Harmony has a fish-phobia!

  4. Colleen - Glad you liked it! I'm guessing you left out the parsley for your picky husband! ;) Did you get your ingredients at TJ's?
    Trent - Maybe this one will one Harmony over?? It's worth a try!
    I'm set to make this again on Sunday! I can't wait!!