cioppino
Seafood Soups

Cioppino {Fisherman’s Stew}

Cioppino is a seafood stew created by Italian fishermen in San Francisco and is a fantastic example of the tastes of fresh California catches blended with traditions from a rich immigrant heritage. It’s also a family favorite that we serve up often when we have leftover seafood that needs a rich and delicious presentation!


cioppino

My dad has a lot of hobbies, but one of them is what he calls historical cooking. He has a huge collection of vintage cookbooks and he loves poring over these and history texts and stories to figure out the heritage of a recipe, and then he tries to make it as it was originally made.

One of his absolute favorite dishes to make and to eat is cioppino {chop-ee-noh}, or a fisherman’s stew that originated with Italian immigrants who worked as fishermen in San Francisco.

The story is that it was a stone soup of sorts – fisherman who either didn’t catch a lot or had to sell everything would fill a pot with onions, tomatoes, and aromatic herbs, and whatever they managed to catch and ask other fisherman to chip in whatever small bits and pieces they could. Often, they threw in crab they grabbed from the shore and mussels they scraped from the wharf. And whatever they collected went onto the stove and became their cioppino.

You’ll find cioppino in a lot of California restaurants, served a number of different ways, but often in the traditional way with the seafood in the shell. To eat it, you need a crab fork and a cracker and a knife for the mussels or oysters. My dad makes it that way, but I prefer to make what’s aptly called the lazy man’s cioppino, which is served with everything pre-cut and pre-cracked and shells removed.

Because shells or no shells, the basic broth and herbs are the same and they infuse the seafood with a beautiful rich herby goodness you’ve got to try and you’re going to love.

cioppino

Serve with a spoon and a few pieces of crusty bread to sop up the tomato sauce. Yum!

[lt_recipe name=”Cioppino” summary=”Cioppino is a seafood stew created by Italian fishermen in San Francisco and is a fantastic example of the tastes of fresh California catches blended with traditions from a rich immigrant heritage. It’s also a family favorite that we serve up often when we have leftover seafood that needs a rich and delicious presentation!” servings=”6″ total_time=”25M” print=”yes” image=”https://homefrontcooking.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Cioppino-1001-1024×683.jpg” ingredients=”4 tbsp olive oil;1 yellow onion, chopped;2 shallots, chopped;2 red bell peppers, chopped;6 garlic cloves, minced;2 bay leaves;1 tsp salt;1/2 tsp smoked paprika;1 can {28 oz} diced tomatoes;1 1/2 cup dry white wine;2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped;2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped;3/4 lb firm white fish fillets {halibut works great}, cut into chunks;1/2 lb lump crab meat, picked;10 large scallops, quartered;20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined;salt and freshly ground pepper;fresh Italian parsley for garnish” ]In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, shallot, bell peppers, and garlic and saute until the onions are tender and just going translucent. ;Add the bay leaves, salt, paprika, tomatoes and juices, and white wine and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture has reduced slightly and thickened, about 15 minutes.;Discard the bay leaves. ;Add the herbs, scallops, and fish. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. ;Add the crab and shrimp, cover and cook until the shrimp and fish are opaque, another 5 minutes.;Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with crusty bread.[/lt_recipe]

If you’re a fan of mussels or clams, you can definitely add them to this. Add them when you add the herbs, scallops, and fish, and when you’ve finished the stew, discard any mussels or clams that haven’t opened.

Since you use a white wine in the stew, I like serving a white wine to accompany this one. A sauvignon blanc works well. If you really need something red, though {there are some times when I just can’t do a white wine}, something mild like a pinot noir works well, too!

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About the ChefKristin

Career Army officer with a tendency toward workaholism. On the side, self taught cook, carpenter, and gardener, working to build a beautiful life for my family. Trying to tilt my balance in the right direction.

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