Last weekend the temperatures were hovering around 0
So for our Sunday evening meal I made cioppino (cho-PEE-no)—Italian fish soup. Not only is it a great soup but it’s soup with a little bit of sunshine. And this is a recipe with a story. I’ve made cioppino by more-or-less this recipe for more than twenty-five years and sometimes for a hundred or more people. A dear friend told me that a few years back she ordered cioppino at a local (to her) restaurant. When she’d tasted it she said a friend of mine makes better cioppino than this. She ended up giving the cook the recipe I’d given her some years before. And they started making cioppino according to my recipe. So, somewhere in the wilds of Manhattan Beach, there’s a restaurant that’s making my cioppino.
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium leek, cleaned thoroughly and chopped (white part only)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and minced (optional)
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
½ tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. dried marjoram
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 bay leaf
4 cups fish stock, clam juice, or a combination
½ lb. bay scallops
½ lb. medium shrimp, shells removed and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste
- Saute the onion and leek in the olive oil over medium heat in a non-reactive soup pot until the onion is transparent.
- Add the optional garlic and saute for 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, fennel, marjoram, the optional cayenne pepper, bay leaf, fish stock or clam juice, salt, and pepper and stir thoroughly.
- Simmer the soup for a half hour partially covered. If it gets too thick, add more stock or clam juice.
- Ten minutes before serving add the scallops and shrimp. Stir it in and cook ten minutes.
Serve this soup with some good Italian bread and a little dry red wine. Anything is better with a little dry red wine.
This soup is fantastic when you make it for a crowd. When you make it for a large number of people, just increase the ingredients proportionally. A combination of sea food is best, the more the merrier. The ideal combination is a mixture of flaky fish like turbot for texture, firm fish like monkfish for heartiness, and shellfish like shrimp, scallops, or mussels. Use 1/4 lb. of seafood per person. Do not use fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel.