This wonderful recipe is featured in my book, Entertaining at Home. Pam's cioppino is one of my favorite versions of this delicious soup.
The name “cioppino” comes from ciuppin, a classic soup from the Italian region Liguria. Similar in flavor to cioppino, ciuppin uses Mediterranean seafood and fewer tomatoes. In the late 1800s, cioppino became a staple of Italian immigrants who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. When a fisherman came home empty-handed, he would walk around with a pot asking other fishermen to chip in whatever they could spare. Anything that ended up in the pot became cioppino. Serve with plenty of crusty bread.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 anchovy fillets, drained
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 to 5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup good-quality dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
One 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes, preferably Cento Chef’s Cut
Leaves of 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 1/2 pounds halibut fillets, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
14 scallops, preferably a mix of bay and sea
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pot on moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the anchovies, allowing them to melt into the olive oil. Add crushed red pepper and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
Add the celery and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften, at least 5 minutes, then add wine. Bring to a boil; simmer until the wine is reduced by half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, thyme, and parsley. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the halibut fillets, shrimp, and scallops. Simmer gently until the fish is just cooked through, stirring gently. Discard any mussels that do not open. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into warm bowls and serve immediately.
Cioppino pairs well with sangiovese. Sangiovese is the dominant grape in Italy’s Chianti wines. This grape is known for its vibrant acidity and substantial tannins, along with fresh cherry fruit and herbal scents. It is also great complement to any dish with cooked tomatoes.
Due to acidic tomatoes, this versatile recipe also pairs well with a Pinot Noir, Riesling or a white Bordeaux.
Lastly, try a Barbera. From Northern Italy, Barbera has been around longer than Cabernet Sauvignon by nearly 1000 years. This Italian grape, with its bright-red cherry character, stokes up the herby broth and keeps in step with the seafood.
© Photo Michael Hunter