You have to try my Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew recipe if you love any kind of Italian seafood stew.
For those of you unfamiliar with cioppino seafood stew, it originates in San Francisco, and has its roots in Italian and Portuguese seafood stew.
It’s usually considered an Italian-American dish.
My husband loves ordering classic cioppino when we dine out. (Me, too!)
Why make this cioppino seafood stew recipe at home?
Going out to restaurants is a wonderful treat from time to time. But the reality is, most of us are trying to save a buck by learning to cook our favorite dishes at home.
What’s nice about making a cioppino San Francisco seafood stew at home is you know exactly what’s going in it.
That way you can avoid anything you don’t like or are allergic to. Or you can tweak the recipe to your specific diet or preferences.
For example, if you like spicy, you can add more red pepper flakes. (Or the opposite, don’t like spicy – use less!)
You’re the chef!
Using frozen seafood in this quick cioppino recipe
When I first tried to develop some recipes for cioppino seafood stew, I had trouble finding fresh shellfish, fish and shrimp that were affordable.
That’s why I decided to create a classic cioppino recipe based on a Giada De Laurentiis cioppino recipe that relies on frozen seafood.
I used Trader Joe’s Frozen Seafood mix, which is a combination of shrimp, scallops and calamari. (Sam’s Club also has a good seafood mix as do some Asian markets.)
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!) for my Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew recipe, so we had to forego the fun of picking them out of the soup.
If you can find frozen mussels at your store, feel free to add them.
If you can’t find seafood mixes at your local grocery stores, use an equivalent amount of shrimp, scallops, or whatever seafood you can find locally. This recipe is pretty versatile.
More substitutions in the tomato seafood stew
Traditionally, fish stock is used in most seafood stews, but I couldn’t find fish stock at the store. And I didn’t have time to make any from scratch. (Who has time for that anyway?)
After doing a little research and finding recipes for cioppino seafood stew that used either chicken broth or clam juice, I decided to do a mix of the two.
Even with the simplifying of a more traditional cioppino Italian seafood stew recipe, my Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew was very tasty.
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.
More tips for making and serving cioppino
Can you freeze cioppino? YES! Double the batch and freeze it for later. However, you’ll need a large stock pot if you want to double the recipe.
Can you reheat seafood stew in the microwave? Sure! Leftover shellfish cioppino heats up well in the microwave. Just don't overheat it or the seafood will end up chewy and rubbery.
Can I omit the wine? If you don’t want to use wine in your batch of Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew, use the equivalent amount of gluten free low sodium chicken broth.
What to serve with cioppino? Make sure to have crusty French or Italian bread on hand for dipping into the broth. So tasty!
If you’re gluten free, toast some of your favorite GF bread for dipping. Mmmmmmmm.
I also like to serve a simple side salad like this Kale Salad with Fruity Vinaigrette with the fish.
Soup, salad and bread is a perfect meal.
Looking for more easy seafood recipes?
If you love seafood or fish, you have to try:
Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew Recipe
- 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 low sodium chicken stock (gluten free)
- 3 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 pounds frozen seafood mix
- 1 pound frozen, uncooked shell off shrimp
- 1 1/2 pounds white, firm-fleshed fish fillets, cut into 2-inch chunks
- Heat the oil in a large stockpot 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 Cioppino Seafood Stew to taste with more salt and red pepper flakes, if needed.
- Ladle the Cioppino Seafood Stew into bowls and serve.
- Serving size: 1/6 to 1/8 of recipe
Originally published on January 10, 2013 and November 7, 2016.
Updated with new pictures and information.