One-Pot Wonders

Cioppino (San Francisco version of Zuppa di Pesce)

June 14, 2009
3 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

This is an adaptation from a huge encyclopedic cookbook titled "FISH". My copy has vanished and I've been unable to track down another. I believe it was published in the 1980s.

It is fine to vary the types of seafood, but to make it a legitimate "Cioppino", you must include at least one fin fish, one crustacean and one mollusk. —Veronica

What You'll Need
  • The Fish
  • 24 small clams in shells
  • 24 mussels
  • 1 1/2 pounds halibut or other firm white fish
  • 1 pound lge. shrimp in shells, split & deveined
  • 3/4 pound Dungeness crabmeat or lobster meat
  • The broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 6 sprigs Italian parsley
  • 2-3 lge. garlic cloves
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 lge. stalks celery
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 28 ounces canned Italian plum tomatoes
  • 14 ounces canned tomato puree
  • 1 cup red Burgundy or other dry red wine
  • 1 cup clam juice (or water)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed, mixed herbs (basil, rosemary, marjoram, oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Place clams & mussels in a sink with cold water. Scrub the mussels to remove any grit and cut away the "beards" with a sharp knife.
  2. Chop the onion and parsley. Mince the garlic, carrots and celery.
  3. In a large pot with a tightly fitting lid, heat the olive oil and add the chopped/minced vegetables. Cook over low/medium heat until soft but not browned. (5-6 minutes stirring intermittently)
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, wine, clam juice, vinegar, herbs and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Then place in another container. (This can be done ahead of time, cooled and refrigerated but be sure to bring back to a simmer before adding to the fish when finishing the soup.)
  5. While the soup is simmering, prepare the fish: Cut halibut into serving size pieces. Tear crabmeat or lobster into bite size pieces. Throw away any mussels or clams that float to the surface in the sink, drain in colander.
  6. Place the fish in the large pot, with the clams and mussels on the top. Pour over the soup that you've brought back to a simmer. Cover tightly and cook over low/medium heat for 20-25 minutes. Remove lid to see if all the clams and mussels have opened--if not, cook for another 5 minutes or until they open. It is unlikely that you'll need salt as the seawater released from the clams and mussels usually adds all the natural saltiness necessary.
  7. Serve in large heated bowls with a good crusty bread alongside and a simple salad. Red wine goes nicely with this but white is fine as well.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Miche
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
  • Merrill Stubbs
    Merrill Stubbs
  • margothand

5 Reviews

margothand July 25, 2021
This is the perfect & very flavorful recipe for a special dinner party for six. Made the base ahead, using 14 oz diced tomatoes instead of puree, letting flavors meld for a few hours on the stove. At dinner time, heated it up again & added 12 littlenecks, 12 Argentine wild shrimp, 12 sea scallops, and a fillet of wild coho salmon. Watch the timing for the shellfish - 10 min. max. Just needs crusty bread and a big, leafy lemon dressing salad because the Cioppino is very rich. Also expensive.
Miche December 28, 2014
This looks good except that the clams and mussels will be way overcooked at 25 minutes.
fosterOR March 4, 2013
Just came across this (better late than never! :-)) looking for a good Cioppino recipe. We loved it! The broth was wonderful. A few thoughts from my first attempt:
- probably obvious but a firmer fish like halibut probably works best. we went with a hake which fell apart too much.
- I didn't totally understand why the broth is removed to a separate container only to then be poured back in atop the seafood. Couldn't one just drop the seafood into the simmering broth?
- silly question but I always struggle with recipes that call for a 24 oz can of tomatoes (san marzanos, et al) because I'm never sure whether the liquid in the can should also be added with the tomatoes. We did and didn't regret it.
- we put the shrimp in ten minutes before the end and not at the same time as the shellfish and fin fish. this seemed to work; I worried the shrimp might overcook otherwise.
I'm not sure what the vinegar did. We didn't taste vinegar in the finished stew but maybe it just added to the wonderful complexity of the broth?
This was wonderful--thanks so much for the recipe!
Amanda H. June 14, 2009
The addition of vinegar sounds interesting!
Merrill S. June 17, 2009
sure does, amanda.