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Recipe of the Week: Cioppino Seafood Chowder

By Staff | May 16, 2018

Loretta Paganini

A delicious Mediterranean seafood stew originating from Genova, Italy, and brought to San Francisco by Italian immigrants. It is now a standard fare in every restaurant in the city by the bay. Served with their famous sourdough bread, it makes a perfect dinner choice. Traditionally prepared by the fisherman’s wife to use up the unsold fish from the day’s catch. The word is derived from the local dialect “Cioppin,” meaning to reduce by boiling. Thus, the essence of a good Cioppino is its rich, concentrated tomato broth. Serves eight. (Chef tip: I like to prepare the delicious spicy tomato base a couple of days ahead and let it sit in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to mingle with each other. Then on the day when I’m going to serve it, I add a variety of fish and seafood and cook it for 10 minutes only.

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bell pepper, chopped

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 can of diced tomatoes (28 ounces)

1 cup tomato sauce

5 cups strained fish fumet or stock

1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 cup of dry white wine

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste

1 bay leaf

2 dozen littleneck clams, mussels or a combination, scrubbed

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 pounds of fish fillet (choose several types, such as cod, snapper, halibut), cut into 1 inch-by-2 inch pieces

In a large soup pot, saut the onions, pepper and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. When they are soft about five minutes, add the wine and let it evaporate. Then add the chopped tomatoes, sauce, fish fumet, bay leaf, crushed red pepper and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes.

Add the clams and mussels, cover the pot and steam. Just when they begin to open, add the fish pieces and cook for five minutes or until the fish turns opaque. Taste and correct the seasonings with drops of olive oil, salt and pepper.

With a slotted spoon divide the shellfish and fish among eight, warm deep bowls. Remove the bay leaf. Ladle the broth over each bowl and serve with crusty bread.