For those of you unfamiliar with cioppino, it’s a fish stew originating in San Francisco. Cioppino has its roots in Portuguese and Italian seafood stews and is considered an Italian-American dish. My husband loves ordering this when we eat out, so I decided to make a batch up for Christmas Eve since it's a tradition with some people to eat fish or seafood that night.
However, finding fresh seafood is just about impossible in Athens, Georgia. Or should I say you can find it, but it’s not very affordable! That’s why I decided to create a recipe (based on one from Giada De Laurentiis) for cioppino that relies on frozen seafood. I used Trader Joe’s Frozen Seafood mix, which is a combination of shrimp, scallops and calamari and only $7.99 for a one pound bag. (You can also find frozen seafood mix in larger bags at Sam’s Club.) In addition, I bought frozen, shell off shrimp at Kroger and used the tilapia I had in the freezer from Costco.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find frozen mussels that weren’t breaded (blech!), so we had to forego the fun of picking them out of the soup. In addition, I couldn’t find fish stock at the store and didn’t have time to make any from scratch. After doing a little research and finding cioppino recipes that used either chicken stock or clam juice, I decided to do a mix of the two.
Even with the "dumbing down" of the more traditional recipe, my Easy and Healthy Cioppino Fish Stew was very tasty. And since it relies on frozen items, you can easily make a batch on the weekends when you have a little time to cook, but don’t want to spend the whole day in the kitchen. Try doubling the batch and freezing it for later. Also, the leftover cioppino heats up well in the microwave - just don't over reheat it or the seafood will end up chewy and rubbery.
Easy and Healthy Cioppino Fish Stew
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 large shallots, chopped
- 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for seasoning
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for seasoning
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 2 1/3 cups chicken stock
- 3 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 pounds Trader Joe’s Frozen Seafood Mix
- 1 pound frozen, shell off shrimp
- 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, shell off
- 1 1/2 pounds white, firm-fleshed fish fillets, cut into 2-inch chunks
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
- Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and sauté for 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes with their juices, wine, chicken stock, clam juice, and bay leaf.
- Cover and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Add the frozen seafood mix to the pot. Cover and cook until the seafood is cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, about 5 minutes
- Season the soup to taste with more salt and red pepper flakes, if needed.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.
- Serving size: 1/6 of recipe