Cioppino is a fish stew derived from the various fish soups of Italian cuisine. Typically it consists of a combination of clams, shrimp, scallops, mussels and white fish with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, often served “as is” (as a stew), or over spaghetti or other long pasta (then, usually called “zuppa de pesce”). I did not include scallops in this recipe for purely selfish reasons – I absolutely adore them, but unfortunately, I am horribly allergic!!! Feel free to throw some in if you would like – just add them at the same time that you add the shrimp. This dish makes a very hearty meal and it is definitely well worth the effort to make, although I have to admit, with how expensive seafood can be, I normally reserve it for special occasions. Don’t let the length of the recipe scare you off from trying this meal. Make it for the first time on a weekend “just-in-case”, but you will see that regardless of the numerous steps, it comes together fairly quickly and easily.

1 quart water, (plus an additional 1/4 cup water)

1 cup dry white wine

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 stalk celery, chopped

3 sprigs parsley

1 bay leaf

3/4 pound ocean perch or snapper fillets

1 can (about 14 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, undrained

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

16 hard-shell clams, scrubbed and soaked

16 mussels, scrubbed and beards removed

1 pound fresh halibut or haddock fillets, skinned and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/2 pound fresh medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Combine 1 quart of water, wine, onions, celery, parsley sprigs and the bay leaf in a large (at least 6 quarts) stockpot or Dutch oven. With the pot covered, bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Add the perch and gently simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to remove the perch to a plate and set aside.

Strain the stock through a sieve or colander into a large bowl (you can discard the onions, celery, parsley sprigs and bay leaf). Return the strained stock to the stockpot. Press the canned tomatoes (with juice) through the colander/sieve into the stockpot and discard the seeds. Into the stock pot, stir the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, salt, sugar and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate stockpot (or a saucepan) combine the clams, mussels and remaining 1/4 cup of water; cover, and cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the clams and mussels open – as they open, use tongs to immediately remove them from the pan or they will be overcooked. Discard any clams and mussels with unopened shells. Rinse clams and mussels under lukewarm; set aside.

Add the halibut, potatoes and fresh tomatoes to the soup mixture in the large stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then (right after it boils) reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes (or until potatoes are just fork-tender). Add the shrimp to the stockpot and cook over medium heat for just 1 to 2 minutes (just until shrimp turn opaque and pink).

Using a fork, “flake” the reserved perch that was set aside earlier, and stir the perch, the reserved clams and mussels, and the chopped parsley into the pot until everything is heated through, and then serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings. Per Serving: 315 calories, 4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 19 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, less than 1 g added sugar, 38 g protein, 424 mg sodium, 110 mg cholesterol

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