Making Cioppino

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cioppino Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco, California made popular by the Italian immigrants that lived there. Last September we traveled to San Francisco and the first thing I wanted to eat was cioppino. There’s something about enjoying a big bowl of this hearty stew that’s filled with fresh fish and seafood, especially when there’s a chill in the air, and San Francisco always seems to have a chill in the air.


I thought cioppino would be the perfect thing to make in my pretty new pot since it’s February and there’s still a chill in the air and it’s also Lenten season where fish is being served in many homes. It’s also a light and healthy meal that can be eaten casually or fancy enough for a special dinner party.

cioppino ingredients Developing a deep flavorful broth is key to a good cioppino because all that glorious fresh fish and seafood will eventually be sunken and infused into it, so it will take on all those flavors.

cioppino ingredients The fish I chose for mine were a mix of scallops, cod, shrimp, mussels, clams and one crab leg, but feel free to use some of your own favorites.

fish broth I like to start out by making a nice fish stock to add into the tomato base, so instead of using just plain clam juice I like to pump it up a little by adding the discarded  shrimp shells, some herbs and aromatics. After it steeps for a little while you’re going to strain everything out and reserve the infused fish stock to add into your tomato base, believe me it makes all the difference!

making cioppino And now the fun begins you’re going to start out by sautéing your veggies, when the veggies are soft and tender add in the tomatoes and fish stock, put the lid on and let it slowly simmer so all the flavors can meld together before you add in any of the fish or seafood.

I prefer a smoother tomato texture for my broth so I like to break it down with my immersion blender, and honestly I think it tastes even better because all the ingredients are scattered throughout the broth, but you can also strain the solids if you prefer.

simmering cioppino Clams and mussels will be dropped in first because they take the longest, then goes the shrimp, scallops, white fish and crab, just a few minutes more with the lid on.

cioppino This is happiness in a bowl!

cioppino And please don’t forget to serve some nice crusty bread to sop up all that wonderful brothy goodness!



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  • 1lb of cleaned mussels
  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined with tails left on (preserve shells for fish stock)
  • 6 sea scallops, sliced in half
  • ½ lb. of firm white fish like cod or halibut
  • 8-10 clams scrubbed clean
  • 1 small crab leg, optional
  • 2 cups, bottled clam juice
  • shrimp shells
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • handful of parsley
  • 2 bay leafs
  • ½ teaspoon each of black peppercorns and fennel seed
  • 2 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes, squished
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ bulb of fennel, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, diced
  • a good pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of good white wine
  • small bunch of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • strained and reserved fish stock
  • olive oil
  1. For the FISH STOCK, place all ingredients into a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for at least 30 minutes or until veggies are soft and tender. Strain, reserve the broth, discard all the solids.
  3. Cover the bottom of a large heavy duty pot with olive oil.
  4. Saute onion, garlic, carrot, celery, fennel and serrano pepper. Add in herbs and red pepper flakes, cook until soft and fragrant.
  5. Add wine and let it cook down and reduce.
  6. Add tomatoes and reserved 2 cups of fish stock.
  7. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, with lid, stirring occasionally for about 1- 1½ hours after you can use an immersion blender like I did or strain some of the solids to make a smooth brothy sauce. Remove bay leaf.
  9. Heat tomato base to medium and drop the mussels and clams into it, place lid on and cook until they open then gently place remaining fish into the tomato base, place lid on and check to see if shrimp is pink and fish is cooked, it will only take a couple of minutes.
  10. Ladle into big bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread, I placed mine under the broiler, but don't walk away it browns quickly


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  1. Marie – You created a fabulous cioppino, using those shells and aromatics to add more flavor. I used to make cioppino every Christmas eve, but with all the other tomato based dishes, I switched it out for something else. Now I’m longing for it, after seeing your post, and will have to go back to it, trying your recipe. What an honor to be asked by AlClad to create a recipe. Brava.

  2. Oh my, do I love a fish stew. Great job. I was happy to see you use fennel and make your own stock.

  3. Looks amazing Marie just like all your wonderful cooking. Once you make your stock it’s a really easy dish. While in Florida we have many clam bakes which are similar to this recipe. Love it.
    Pot looks great. I’d be afraid to have you see all my Chicago pots….a few miles on them. All the best, Carol

  4. What I’d give to have a big bowlful of the cioppino. And I’m with you, if I were to go to San Francisco that would be the first dish I would order. I may not order anything else!! Aren’t the colors beautiful?? Appealing to the eyes and the tummy — YUM!! Have a great weekend. I bet you’re busy planning another delicious dish with your new pot 🙂

  5. Perfect for this time of year. I could eat a bowl right now on this cold and rainy morning…

  6. You are the best! I love your recipes and the layout of your cooking blog. As always, “Thank you!”.

  7. This looks delicioous! After our 3 children were college-age and over I started making this for every Christmas eve… and we all loved it. I’d usually make the ‘base’ a day or 2 in advance as it was such a busy time. Now, about 18 years later — there aren’t that many of us … so when I do make it – its an occasion! Your pictures are great .. and that pan is something that looks terrific! Enjoy!

  8. Lucky you! I love All-Clad products and am slowly adding piece-by-piece to my kitchen. So, where did you eat Cioppino in San Francisco? I hope you had their famous sour dough bread. Yum! I’ve never made Cioppino, and my son keeps asking me to. You made it look very easy to do.

  9. Denise Smith-Lamb says

    Marie: Your Cioppino looks delicious.
    Can not wait to try making this.

    We so enjoy any of the recipes we
    try from your site.

    Love the pan. Wonder how it works
    on an induction stove top. It is a trail
    and error process finding pots that work well
    on an induction cooktop.

  10. Oh my! The first time my hubby had cioppino was in San Francisco two falls ago…He, of course, fell in love. We’ve been back one time since then and of course, we went back to the same restaurant and he had the same cioppino…I would venture to guess that this is one of his all-time favorite dishes. And now, because of you, I can make it for him! Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe! I rarely cook seafood but this needs to happen!

  11. How many would this serve?