cioppino {san francisco’s famous seafood stew}

At this point in my life, I’m about 6 hours (in all directions) from the nearest ocean. Virginia Beach, Ocean City, the Outer Banks – you name it, they are all far away. The hubs and I try to make it out to the beach at least once a year. Usually in those trips…and especially when family is involved, a big old seafood dinner is always on the books weeks in advance. Because let’s face it, there’s nothing better than a fresh piece of seafood, caught that day, and not far at all from where you’re dining. I wish I was fortunate enough to enjoy that luxury year round, but for now, special seafood dinners at the beach will have to do

…that is, until I started making cioppino.

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By no means am I trying to compare grocery store seafood to the fresh caught bounty of the shore, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, amiright? Sometimes, and I’ll be the first to admit it happens more often than not, I will get a craving for seafood so big I just have to do something about it. This is where cioppino comes into play, my dears. Easy to throw together, a one pot wonder, and the best part is that you can use whatever seafood you might like.

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I can remember the first time that I made this dish. I had just returned home from visiting my parents, and was lucky enough to hit up the wonder that is Trader Joe’s. A bag labelled “seafood medley” had caught my eye so I quickly snatched it up, not exactly knowing what I would do with it, but I knew it would be delicious. I ended up tossing it with some tomatoes, broth and veggies, and called it a night. It was tasty, to be sure, but certainly not spectacular.

The recipe I want to share with you all today is one that I happened upon when I was planning a date night menu for the hubs and I not too long ago. We always like to have one weekend night ‘in’ so to speak – we experiment with cocktails, and I whip up a few quick and easy dishes for dinner. Date night in comfy clothes…can I get an AMEN! I know you ladies are with me on this one.

But getting back on track. As I said, I was perusing different sites and this particular recipe caught my eye. Brimming with a variety of seafood, spices, and other wonderful flavors, I immediately knew that this would be it.

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This dish is truly easy to prepare; don’t be fooled by the long list of ingredients and steps. The majority of the time you’ll dedicate to it is watching it on the stovetop, and the longer you let the tomatoes and broth merry with the wine and herbs, the better it will be. And you know how I mentioned this is perfect date night food? I’m not even kidding. It’s a wonderfully light dish, and won’t leave you feeling heavy afterward. So pour yourself a glass of white wine, settle in for the evening, and get to cooking. :)

Bon appetit!



{adapted slightly from American Food}

Note: Please, please, please make sure you use fresh and not frozen seafood when preparing this dish! It is going to make a difference in the final flavors of the cioppino. It’s worth the slight splurge. And by no means do you have to use the fish listed below – feel free to swap out whatever you may like! Shrimp would be wonderful, as would halibut, or any other thick white fish. 

Makes 6 large portions


1/4 C. olive oil

1 rib celery, diced

1 onion, diced

2 (14 ounce) cans of tomatoes, one diced and one crushed

1 small can of canned clams, with the liquid

1 C. good chicken stock

6 cloves of garlic, minced

juice of half a lemon

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 pepper flakes, or to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

3/4 lb. cod, cut into 1″ strips

24 fresh scallops (I used a smaller scallop)

8-12 fresh clams

1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped

In a large pot (I used my favorite Le Creuset braising pan), on medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add in the carrots, onion, and garlic, and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the rest of the above ingredients, except the chicken stock, seafood and fresh parsley. Simmer on low, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. Add the chicken stock in every 10 minutes or so, stirring to combine. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper as needed.

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Add in the cod and cover, cooking for about 7 minutes. Add in the canned clams with their liquid, the scallops, and the clams. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the clams open.  Serve in large bowls and top with parsley. Make sure to serve lots of crusty bread on the side (I love a good French or sourdough loaf) and a good white wine!

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The cioppino, less the seafood, also freezes amazingly well. I like to scoop out half the broth before cooking the seafood, letting it cool in a freezer-safe container, and then storing it for a later meal. Simply thaw it in the refrigerator, and when you are ready to cook it, simply add it into your pot, bring to temperature and proceed to cook the fish in it as directed above. Two meals, one prep – it’s fabulous! 

6 thoughts on “cioppino {san francisco’s famous seafood stew}

  1. This looks so delicious.. I have to say that you’re much closer to the ocean than I am! I’m printing this as I’m typing.. I’ll be trying this very soon. I know this is something that my husband will love! Your photos are perfect.. :-)

    • Thanks so much for your kind words! I wish that everyone could be a hop/skip/jump away from the ocean, but dinners like this make it seem closer :) I do hope you enjoy it when you make it! Have a lovely day.

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