Making Cioppino

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