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Cioppino is a fish stew that was created in San Francisco in the late 1800s. It is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in San Francisco is typically a combination of crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish from the Pacific ocean.

The Cioppino I served yesterday at Sunday supper for Connor, my dad, and myself was a seafood medley that came in this bag from Costco. It consisted of shrimp, mussels, scallops, and calamari rings.

Not only did it not come from San Francisco, but according to the packaging, that I am just now reading, none of it even came from the USA! Oh well, it tasted great and since it was frozen, it didn’t really matter.

Since you may be using live mussels, I’m writing the recipe accordingly. The frozen mussels were already cooked and opened, so my stew was actually easier to make.

When using tomato paste, I like to use the paste in the tube instead of the can. For this recipe, I used sun-dried tomato paste from the tube. It is more intense, so I used 2 tablespoons instead of the ¼ cup I tell you to use in the recipe. I’m assuming most people have regular tomato paste on hand instead of sun-dried paste.

Have you seen these wonderful red and yellow striped bell peppers in the market? They are Striped Holland bell peppers. According to a specialty produce site, “the bell peppers are yellow bell peppers with deep red stripes that seem painted on in swaths. The bi-colored peppers are hand-grafted and slowly ripened to maximize flavor and maintain consistency.”  I’ve been using them all summer for my crudités Harmony Boards and wouldn’t usually use them when cooking, but I had one that was looking a bit wrinkly and tired, so I used it here.

Fish stock can be difficult to find. I use a combination of clam juice, chicken broth, and water. If you do find the fish stock you may substitute it for the chicken broth.

I served Connor and my dad’s stew over angel hair pasta, which is not traditional, but I knew they’d like a little more bulk to the dish. I had mine without pasta. Everyone was happy!

Cioppino (fish stew)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 3 large shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 3 cups chicken broth or fish stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 ½ to 3 pounds of mixed fish and shellfish (such as shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, crab, squid, salmon, and/or white fish)


  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • Finely minced jalapeño peppers
  • Minced Italian parsley
  • Thinly sliced green onion
  • Fresh fennel fronds (leaves)
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Hot sauce

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, bell pepper, shallots, and salt and sauté until the onion is translucent about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, dried thyme, and red pepper flakes, and sauté for 2 more minutes.

Add the wine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Then stir in the tomato paste and tomatoes with their juices along with the clam juice, stock, water, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 to 40 minutes.

If using live clams and mussels, add them to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes.

Add the remaining fish and shellfish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams and mussels are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer. (Discard any clams and mussels that do not open).

Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish as desired, serve hot.

Serves 6

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1 Susan Sevig { 07.30.18 at 6:03 AM }

Looks delicious. Where did you find those beautiful peppers? I also live in Phoenix area.

2 Linda Hopkins { 07.30.18 at 6:45 AM }

Susan, I have found the peppers at Sprouts, Whole Foods, AJ’s and at Trader Joe’s (in a two-pack)

3 Susan Sevig { 07.31.18 at 4:16 PM }

Odd, I looked in all those places today. WIll keep my eye out for them. They are gorgeous. Thanks.

4 Susan Sevig { 07.31.18 at 4:17 PM }

Strange, I have looked in all these places in the last two days and did not see them. I will keep looking. They are gorgeous. Thanks.

5 Linda Hopkins { 07.31.18 at 4:48 PM }

Susan, I will keep an eye out for them and email you when I find them again.

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