I must admit, the idea of “fish stew” was a total food turn off for me. No thank you. Not for me.
And then, BAM, one night I had a craving for fish and tomato and decided to break out of my comfort zone. Can I just say, I had no idea what I was missing?! This soup is simply magical. And, in my opinion, it is a dish that is appropriate for all seasons. Well, I guess all the seasons I experience in So Cal. I just still can’t refer to it as “fish stew”, it can only ever be Cioppino to me.
This wonderful creation is a mix of savory vegetables, fresh seafood, a perfectly salted broth, and a touch of heat. Now that I’m writing this, I am literally thinking of the next time this will make an appearance in my kitchen. Hint: It’ll be very soon.
I’ve now had this at several different restaurants in the area, and I may have had it more than an appropriate number of times in one week. So, naturally I consider myself sort of Cioppino connoisseur.
Now, you can eat this many different ways…out of a bread bowl, in a regular soup bowl with a LARGE piece of sourdough bread for dipping, sprinkled with some parmesan (my favorite), with massive amounts of garlic bread, or for my carb avoiding friends, simply on its own! ALL WAYS ARE DELICIOUS! May I repeat, there is no wrong way to eat this masterpiece.
When I first dove into trying to recreate the yummy creations I had from the restaurants around me, I was a wee bit intimidated. I am not an expert at shellfish (to say the least), I live in constant fear I am going to over cook them. I’m also not great at picking out seafood, I just don’t have much experience. So, my life was completely changed when I found Trader Joe’s frozen seafood blend. This made it official, I was going go delve into the unknown and whip up my own batch of this savory stew.
Notes: You can add in whatever fish or seafood you want, this works with pretty much everything. Samsies on the veggies (though root veggies hold up best). I choose to use a vegetable based broth because it is more available to me than fish broth, but you can use either. This is served best PIPING hot, we’re talking, just barely able to eat without hurting the roof of your mouth hot.
The Most Amazing Cioppino (Fish Stew)
A delectable tomato based seafood stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb chopped
- 2 large shallots chopped
- 2 large carrots chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 large garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon dried red chili pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 jalapeno (optional) chopped and deseeded
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bag of trader joes seafood blend
- 1 lb mussels scrubbed
- 1 lb large shrimp
- small handful cilantro
- Step 1 Heat oil in a very large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, shallots, carrots and salt and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Step 2 Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook another 2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Take care to not burn the garlic.
- Step 3 Add in the tomato paste, tomatoes (with the juice in the can), jalapeño, wine, vegetable broth, fish sauce, bay leaf and black pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low to maintain simmer for about 30 minutes (blending all the flavors).
- Step 4 Add the Trader Joes seafood blend to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Step 5 Add the clams, cover and cook until the mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes.
- Step 6 Add the shrimp and continue to simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the mussels are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open).
- Step 7 Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.
- Step 8 Top with cilantro.