Rustic Seafood Stew

15 Jan

There are few things more satisfying than a hearty soup or stew on a cold winter day.  Soups are the ideal forum for an array of vegetables to join together and mingle in harmony.  They lend themselves particularly well to vegetables that have seen better days.  With soup, technique is rarely important.  Chop each vegetable into whatever shape and size your heart desires, throw into a pot with some water, heat, and season to taste with salt, herbs, and other seasonings.  I speak from experience when I say that soups are one of the few dishes that even a strict recipe-follower feels comfortable concocting on a whim.

When you combine the ease of making a stew with seemingly gourmet ingredients, the result is a no-fuss meal that is perfect for easy entertaining.  I discovered this rustic seafood stew over the holidays while flipping through a Bon Appetit magazine.  Cioppino is the name given to an Italian-American fish stew that originated in San Fransisco.  Typically served with crusty bread, the stew combines shrimp, mussels, squid and fish in a rich tomato-wine broth.

The combination of flavours was absolute perfection.  It was so tasty that I’m at a loss for descriptive words!  Without a doubt, this recipe makes it onto my list of all-time favourite dishes.

Cioppino. The photo doesn't do the dish justice-- I was too eager to dive in.


Cioppino aka Rustic Seafood Stew (from Bon Appetit magazine)

1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small (or 1/2 large) fennel bulb, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
8-ounce (250 ml) bottle clam juice
1 pound skinless haddock or cod, cut into 1″ pieces
1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 pound large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, or frozen king crab legs, thawed
1 pound cleaned squid, thawed if frozen, bodies cut into 1/2″ rings, tentacles left whole
Country-style bread

  1. Toast fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Finely grind in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle; set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and fennel are soft, about 12 minutes.
  3. Stir in ground fennel seeds, tomatoes with juices, wine, clam juice, and 1 cup water. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, until flavors meld, about 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in fish, mussels, and shrimp and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add squid, cover, and cook until mussels open and seafood is cooked through, about 5 minutes (discard mussels that do not open). Serve with bread.

Makes 8 servings.  Per serving: 272 kcal, 8.5 g fat, 1.8 g fibre, 946 mg sodium.

3 Responses to “Rustic Seafood Stew”

  1. Mom January 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Lisa made this for me in Florida. I agree whole heartedly with her assessment. It really was delicious and I plan to make it myself some time.

    • lisa January 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

      Thanks Mom!

  2. Sarah Leo January 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    This sounds like just the ticket for a cold winter Sunday!

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