Last Updated on July 29, 2022
Cioppino-Style Shellfish Stew with cod, scallops, shrimp, and clams is based on the venerable San Francisco classic. Serve it with crusty sourdough bread to soak up the delicious soup. This soup makes an excellent choice for Palm Sunday or Christmas Eve dinner if you want something pescatarian-based.
This soup is based on Cioppino, the famous dish from San Francisco, originating in the late 1800s by Italian immigrants. Many of the fishermen fishing off the wharf were from the port city of Genoa. It was a communal dish. The fishermen who came back empty-handed would walk around with a pot and ask others to contribute whatever they could. Whatever ended up in the pot became their “cioppino”. Cioppino comes from the Italian word Ciuppin (also spelled ciupin), a classic soup from the Liguria region. It is similar in flavor to cioppino but with less tomato and uses Mediterranean seafood.
How to Make Cioppino-Style Shellfish Stew
What ended up in this pot was cod, clams, scallops, and shrimp, plus a lobster base for flavor. If you can get fresh seafood, the more the better. However, frozen seafood works very well here, too. You are free to add other seafood if you wish. Crab, mussels, lobster, clams in their shells, etc., would all be very good.
The red baby potatoes are not typical of the traditional stew. Cioppino-Style Fish Stew is also based on an older recipe of mine for Fresh Seafood Stew, which includes potatoes. Cut the potatoes so they are all around the same size and they will be done at the same time.
The soup is traditionally served with warmed sourdough bread to sop up the lovely liquid. If you would rather have rice or pasta, you are more than welcome, but the bread is wonderful for sharing. Cioppino was originally based on sharing, so do use baguettes of sourdough bread, preferably from San Francisco. Essential Baking Company, available from Imperfect Foods, has lovely Fresh Demi Baguettes.
If you have leftovers, you can put them in Souper Cubes, freeze them, and vacuum seal them. The soup freezes very well. Then, you can just pop it into the microwave or on the stovetop to reheat it. Letting your nose smell the ocean as you eat your warm leftover stew is like a mini seaside vacation.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes
- 10 ounce San Marzano tomatoes
- 8 ounce clam juice
- 1 teaspoon lobster base
- 2 cups water, boiling
- ⅛ teaspoon saffron
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 6 ounce white wine
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 4 ounce cod
- 1 pound baby red potatoes
- 8 ounce clams, chopped
- 12 ounce scallops
- 16 ounce shrimp
- Mis en place.
- Heat a dutch oven.
- 1/4 cup olive oilAdd a generous amount of olive oil to the hot pan.
- 1 onionAdd the chopped onion.
- 2 cloves garlicWhen the chopped onion starts to get translucent, you can add the Garlic after stirring it.
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/2 teaspoon chili flakesAfter that, add the fennel seed, and finally, add the chili flakes. Stir that all around.
- 10 ounce San Marzano tomatoesAdd tomatoes that you have crushed with your hands. Stir that.
- 1 teaspoon lobster base, 2 cups waterWhile that is happening, add boiling water to the lobster base and set that aside.
- 8 ounce clam juiceThe next thing we're going to do is add the clam juice. Stir that.
- Now you're going to add the lobster base you made a moment ago and stir that.
- 1/8 teaspoon saffronCrush the saffron threads with your fingers and add those.
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay SeasoningNext is the Old Bay seasoning. Add that and stir.
- 6 ounce white wineAdd the white wine.
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepperNext, freshly ground black pepper.
- 4 ounce codFinally, add the cod and stir it.
- 1 pound baby red potatoesThen you will add baby red potatoes.
- Let it cook for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.
- Next, test the potatoes by inserting a knife in one. If it goes in easily, they are done.
- 8 ounce clamsNext, add the clams and stir them in.
- 12 ounce scallopsAdd the scallops.
- The scallops are cooked when they are 130℉ / 54℃ degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
- 16 ounce shrimpThen add the shrimp.
- Cook that for a few minutes, and then you're ready to serve.