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How to Make Cioppino: Italian-American Seafood Stew

How to Make Cioppino: Italian-American Seafood Stew

Cioppini - Italian American Seafood Stew

Born from the humble kitchens of Ligurian fishermen, but perfected on the coast of California, this aromatic and hearty stew mirrors the soul of Italian cuisine – rustic, flavorful, and deeply rooted in local traditions.

Its origins can be traced back to Genoa, in the Liguria region. Fishermen would toss the catch-of-the-day into a pot with herbs and wine, simmering until all flavors melded into a harmonious concoction. The name “Cioppino”, however, is completely unfamiliar to many Italians, as this term was popularized by Italian immigrants in San Francisco. They recreated this comforting dish using the Pacific’s bounties, and the Americanized ‘Cioppino’ was born.

Each region, from Liguria to Sicily, has its unique spin on this classic dish. While the Genovese version primarily emphasizes fish, the Sicilian rendition often includes a broader spectrum of seafood. Our featured recipe, for instance, adds a delightful Sicilian touch with the inclusion of squid and the hint of dried Sicilian oregano.

Depending on the catch of the day, or personal preference, the seafood components in this stew can vary, but the soul remains the same: a tomato-rich broth, aromatic herbs, and the freshest seafood. San Marzano tomatoes form the base of the broth, pumped up by white wine to add acidity and minerality.

To finish, the stew is garnished with gremolata, an awesome blend of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. This final flourish cuts through the richness, firing a burst of freshness with each bite.

Bon Appetito!

See Also
Guatemalan Caldo de Pollo

Step By Step Guide to Making Italian-American Cippolino Seafood Stew

Ingredients Preparation:

Before diving in, ensure all your ingredients are prepped. Chop the fennel bulb and onion finely, mince the garlic cloves, and portion out your seafood as indicated.

1. Making the Base:

  • In a sizeable heavy-bottomed stockpot, warm the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Introduce the finely chopped fennel, onion, garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. This aromatic trio will infuse the oil, setting the stage for the flavors to come.
  • Sauté until the onions adopt a soft and translucent hue, typically around 8 to 10 minutes.

2. The Squid:

  • Add the cleaned squid to the pot. Let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. The squid not only adds its distinct taste but also tenderizes in this process.

3. Wine:

  • Pour in the dry white wine. Elevate the heat to medium-high and let it bubble away until most of the wine is absorbed. This process, lasting about 20 minutes, dampens the alcohol’s sharpness and joins it with the developing flavors.

4. Tomatoes:

  • Blend in the crushed San Marzano tomatoes.
  • Season with lemon zest, salt, pepper, and the aromatic dried Sicilian oregano.
  • Allow the mix to simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, until it achieves a luscious thickness. This phase should span around 30 to 35 minutes.

5. Adding Liquid:

  • Infuse the mixture with water and seafood stock, bringing it to a gentle boil.

6. Seafood:

  • Introduce the mussels, clams, and shrimp. Seal the pot with a lid, letting the steam work its magic to open the shells in about 5 minutes.
  • Delicately fold in the pre-portioned firm-fleshed fish and lobster meat. Monitor until the fish becomes opaque, which should take 3 to 4 minutes.

7. Gremolata:

  • While the stew bubbles, craft the gremolata. On a chopping board, combine fresh parsley, zesty lemon, and the peeled garlic clove. Chop finely.

8. Serving:

  • Once cooked, ladle the stew into individual bowls.
  • Sprinkle a generous pinch of the freshly made gremolata on top, offering a burst of zest with every spoonful.

There you have it! A bowl brimming with the essence of Italy’s coastline.

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Cioppini - Italian American Seafood Stew

Cioppini – Italian American Seafood Stew

  • Author: Honest Cooking
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x


Born from the humble kitchens of Ligurian fishermen, but perfected on the coast of California, this aromatic and hearty stew mirrors the soul of Italian cuisine – rustic, flavorful, and deeply rooted in local traditions.


Units Scale
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Fennel Bulb (Finely Chopped)
  • 1 Small Onion (Finely Chopped)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves (Minced)
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 pound Medium Sized Cleaned Squid (Bodies Cut Into 1/2 Inch Rings, Tentacles Halved)
  • 2 cups Dry White Wine
  • 1 28 ounce Can Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Sicilian Oregano
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 cup Seafood Stock
  • 12 ounces Cleaned Mussels
  • 12 ounces Littleneck Clams
  • 12 ounces Cleaned & Deveined Medium Shrimp
  • 12 ounces Firm Fleshed Fish (Such As Grouper, Halibut, Striped Bass, or CodCut Into 1 1/2-inch Pieces)
  • 2 Medium Lobster Tails (Flesh Removed From Shells & Cut Into Bite-Sized Pieces)


  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley
  • Zest From 1 Lemon
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove (Peeled)


  1. In a large heavy bottomed stockman, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the fennel, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the squid, and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour in the white wine, and cook over medium high heat until most of the wine has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes and lemon zest, salt, pepper, and oregano.
  6. Cook over low heat stirring every so often, until the mixture is very thick, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  7. Add the water and seafood stock, and bring to a boil.
  8. Add the mussels, clams, and shrimp, cover the pot, and cook until most of the shells have opened, about 5 minutes.
  9. Stir in the lobster meat along with the fish, and cook another 3 to 4 minutes or until the fish is opaque.
  10. While the stew is cooking place the parsley, lemon, and garlic on a cutting board and chop ingredients together finely.
  11. Serve the stew immediately in bowls, with a sprinkling of the gremolata on top.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Italian American

Keywords: Soup, Stew, Seafood, Tomatoes, Italian, Italian-American, Squid, Shrimp, Lobster, Grouper, Cod, Fish, Seafood Stew, Bouillabaise, tomato broth

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