Easy Seafood Cioppino Recipe
Loaded with fresh seafood and swimming in a mildly spicy tomato broth, this Easy Seafood Cioppino Recipe is a healthy meal that’s easy to prepare. A perfect alternative to a calorie laden chowder and ready in under 30 minutes.
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Originally published July 2015 and updated January 2020.
I LOVE seafood, especially that of the shellfish variety. If it has a shell and comes from the sea, chances are I’ll eat it. We kinda live on it during the summer months with frequent trips to the Jersey shore where shellfish is a staple but if you’ve ever been to San Francisco, that’s really the shellfish capital in my opinion.
A quick trip to San Francisco and I was immediately smitten by the outdoor restaurants bursting at the seams with fresh seafood. Everything you can imagine and Cioppino Seafood stew at just about every eatery. It was so fresh and flavorful, hard to beat coming back to the east coast unless you make it yourself.
Wondering what Cioppino is? Well, Cioppino, pronounced “Chu – Pe – No”, is an Italian-American seafood stew that’s made up, primarily, of the catch of the day. Created in the 1800’s by Italian fishermen who settled in San Francisco and threw in anything they had from their return from the sea, mainly Dungeness Crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, mussels, squid and fish.
It’s really up to you what you want to include in this recipe, for mine…I used what I could easily find at the fish market that day. I, usually, add mussels and dungeness crab but they didn’t have it the day I shot the photos so for this recipe I used jumbo lump crab, clams, shrimp and scallops.
I’ve also made my Cioppino recipe with fresh fish, mussels and calamari when the budget was a little tighter. That’s a great way to stretch it out, too, if you’re feeding a crowd.
You can also tailor the recipe to feed as little or as many people as you like. The broth is easily doubled or tripled to make enough for entertaining. To punch up the flavor a bit, I like to use Fire-Roasted crushed tomatoes. If you can’t find fire-roasted tomatoes, regular crushed tomatoes will work also.
I like to serve it at the table right in the pot, this is my favorite one and I use it several times a week because it’s a real workhorse in the kitchen!
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CIOPPINO AND BOUILLABAISSE
If you’ve made my Bouillabaisse recipe already, then you may thing this is the same thing. While Cioppino and Bouillabaisse are very similar, they are different in that Cioppino is more tomato based while traditional Bouillabaisse has more of a fish stock base with very few tomatoes in the stew.
TIPS FOR MAKING SEAFOOD CIOPPINO
- If using clams, be sure to clean the clams by soaking the clams in cold water for one hour. Clams will filter the sand out themselves if soaked in water. I place the clams in a fine mesh sieve and place the sieve in a bowl filled with water. After one out, lift the strainer with the clams out of the water and rinse. Sand free clams!
- Cook the clams first….just until they open before adding the other seafood.
- Shrimp cooks quickly so add the shrimp and crab to the soup last.
- You can make the cioppino base in advance and freeze it. Do not add the seafood until just before serving. To reheat, simply bring to a boil and then add the seafood as instructed below in the recipe card.
- If you don’t want to use wine in your Cioppino, you can skip it or replace it with apple juice. The sweetness is lovely with the acidity of the tomatoes.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH CIOPPINO
This easy seafood stew is a one pot dinner that I usually just serve with a crisp white wine and some crusty bread (with lots of butter, of course.) But if you want to add some additional freshness, we love to serve a light green salad with a homemade Thousand Island dressing.
Ready in under 30 minutes, Easy Seafood Cioppino is a healthy stew perfect for an easy, and pretty high brow, weeknight dinner.
Looking for something a little more fancy, this super simple Lobster Bisque is totally amazing!
Easy Shellfish Cioppino Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 vidalia onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups fish stock or you can use chicken stock in a pinch
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon
- 12 littleneck clams
- 1 lb medium uncooked shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1/2 lb large sea scallops
- 1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add the onion and Cook until softened. Stir in the garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Add the red pepper flakes, oregano and tomato paste. Cook the mixture until the tomato paste turns a deep red color.
- Stir in the wine and deglaze the pan scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking until the wine is reduced by half.
- Add the tomatoes and fish stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir in the tarragon.
- Add the clams to the broth and cook until the clams open. Stir in the shrimp and scallops continuing to cook until they become opaque. Add the crab and cook until warmed through.
- Top with the parsley and basil. Serve immediately with warm crusty bread.