Cioppino (pronounced “chee-oh-PEE-noh”) is an Italian-American dish, likened to the various regional fish soups and stews of the Old Country; however, it’s not actually an off-the-boat traditional Italian. Cioppino itself hails from… San Francisco!
Often served at Christmas time, cioppino is an easy-to-make dish and even easier to customize for various food allergies, as you’ll see. We had a shrimp allergy in our midst, so that ingredient was cooked separately with many of the same flavors as the stew to conceal the fact that it had been cooked in a separate pan away from the smorgasbord of seasonings. If you have gluten free and non-gluten free friends and family, cooking the pasta separately is a cinch and will not compromise the delicious flavors for any of your guests.
Here’s another little secret. Cioppino calls for mussels, clams, and in some recipes, calamari, none of which I know how to cook, nor were they easy to find in the hubbub of preparation, so these items were conveniently left out of our dish:) I’ve included these succulent seafoods in the recipe for those of you who are epicurean masters.
As you can tell from my tale of preparing this one for my family, and as with all the dishes you’ll find on the website, the trick is to use the recipe as a guidepost and tailor to your own tastes. Have fun and make the dish your own!
1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh parsley leaves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves (2 1/2 tablespoons if dried)
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon if dried)
1/4 teaspoon oregano leaves(1/2 teaspoon if dried)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (juice and all)
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups gluten free pasta (spaghetti noodles are my favorite)
1 1/2 pounds raw extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 pounds fish fillets (halibut, cod, tilapia or salmon; if tilapia, note: it cooks quickly and falls apart more easily, so add it later in the process)
1 1/2 pounds bay scallops
12 small hard-shell clams in shell
12 mussels in shell
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the Broth:
In a pan on medium-low heat, melt the butter.
Turn the heat up to medium, then add the onions, garlic and parsley. Stir occasionally to keep them from burning.
Let the onions and garlic start to brown.
Add the chicken or vegetable broth, tomatoes, wine, bay leaf, basil, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
Bring the dish to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you’re doing the full-boat seafood version:
Scrub clams and mussels with a small stiff brush under cold running water; remove beards from mussels.
Discard any open clams or mussels.
Cover with cold salted water; let stand 5 minutes and then pour off the salted water.
For the pasta:
Begin to cook your pasta by bringing 3 cups of water to a boil and adding the pasta noodles.
Cook pasta until al dente. (You can tell it’s al dente, but taking a noodle, biting/cutting in half and seeing a wee little white dot in the middle, which is the uncooked part. You want to prevent the pasta from overcooking. It will cook a little more when you add it to the broth, so undercooking is favorable at this stage.)
Back to the Broth:
Gently stir in the clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and fish fillets into the prepared stock.
(If you have any food allergies, like we did, cook that seafood separately using butter, garlic and parsley.)
Cover and simmer 5 to 7 minutes until clams pop open and shrimp are opaque when cut.
Add the pasta into the stock, turn it off, and you’re done!