19 May2007

Cioppino, Revisited

by Marketman

This post on Cioppino was first published in April of 2006. It is a superb dish if you are at the seashore this summer and have access to great seafood. This not only tasted terrific, it is one of the most visually attractive dishes I have ever made!


The mercury was soaring and Holy Thursday at the beach was HOT, HOT, HOT! Early mornings were spent at the local seaside market, and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and amount of seafood on offer. Normally, I fret that there is so little for sale during holiday weeks and because times are tougher than ever, merchants just don’t stock up. But the opposite was true and I went a little wild… I bought lots of crabs, squid and lobster then decided to make some cioppino (seafood soup), so I bought fish to make a homemade fish stock… then I got sliced tanguigue, alumahan, matangbaka, tulingan, and on and on… Totally went overboard but that just meant our guests and entire household would be eating well over the next few days…

So, instead of just an intense “Last Supper”, we started with a “Last Lunch” as well. Cioppino is a seafood soup from San Francisco created by Italian immigrants and my version of it is really more seafood with broth rather than the other way around. A nice spicy flavorful tomato based broth with the freshest shellfish and fish you can find at the market. ciop2It is really easy to make, absolutely delicious, admittedly somewhat extravagant if you throw in lots of variety. It can be simply made with just a few brilliant clams and mussels and fish or you can go to the “Versace” end of the spectrum and have lobsters, crabs, etc. I have made this soup in the province several times simply because the selection of seafood was just too good to ignore. So instead of giving you a recipe that is anally measured, I will describe to you a process that should work well every time.

Saute some chopped onion, and garlic in olive oil. Add some chopped red capsicum or sweet bell pepper if you have it. Saute for several minutes over medium heat until nearly browning. ciop3Add some tomato paste and about a cup or so of red wine. Add some chopped chilli peppers to taste (I like it spicy) then a large can of chopped tomatoes and some fresh or dried oregano and basil. Add a splash of wine vinegar. Add several cups of fish broth (I make mine from scratch) or bottled clam juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Boil this down a bit until you have a substantial tasty broth, about 20-30 minutes. To this broth (make more if you want your cioppino soupy or less if you want lots of seafood just “braised” with tomato-ey broth) add cleaned and dismembered crabs, lobsters, fish (tanguigue or firm fleshed fish), clams, mussels, etc. and cover until cooked. Arrange the seafood in large soup bowls and add some broth. If you want to get fancy, make a sauce of some raw garlic, lots of basil, salt and olive oil stuck in a food processor (a pesto of sorts) and drizzle it over your soup. Serve with some grilled country bread brushed with olive oil. This pesto is drizzled on the cioppino as shown in the first photo up above…it was delicious!

It is difficult to describe just how good this soup was… fresh sweet meat of shellfish, ciop4spicy tomato-ey broth, bread and pesto. One of the finest meals I have had this year. There weren’t any good clams or mussels that day at the market but they had everything else so this was a decadent version of the soup without “fillers.” The clams would have added flavorful liquid to the soup and made it even richer tasting… I will leave you with this photo of lobster tail meat freshly extracted from its shell instead of writing more jibberish…



  1. sha says:

    god damn why am working aboard a very kosher yacht!!! but promised my crew I will make them this soup once we are just by ourselves and will go for all seafood.
    we are cruising the liguria!

    May 19, 2007 | 7:01 am


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  3. bernadette says:

    This is a great discovery! I usually am stuck with the usual mussel soup recipe…and this dish makes me want to rush to the palengke and get each of whatever catch they have for the day! Thanks again!

    May 19, 2007 | 8:03 am

  4. lee says:

    i tasted a very local version of mixed seafood soup years ago whn i was invited to a fiesta in Bais City, Negros Oriental. My friends went foraging for whatever sea creature they can find on the muddy banks of the estuarine which they all cooked together. The soup had a few crabs, some “dapa”, some squid,and a few other fish.

    May 19, 2007 | 1:28 pm

  5. Apicio says:

    Sha: Keeping kosher in a yatch? That sounds like the reason why there were never any Jewish cowboys (other than Billy Crystal and Mel Brooks, of course). Too difficult to keep two sets of utensils on the range. Just dock in Marseille and pig out on their bouillabaisse.

    May 20, 2007 | 4:11 am


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