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Cioppino (Seafood Soup)

Cioppino is a San Franciscan seafood soup similar to bouillabaisse. This version of Cioppino includes fresh tomatoes, crab, clams, prawns and red snapper.
Course Entree, Soups & Stews
Cuisine American, Best, Italian
Level Intermediate
Main Ingredient Fish, Shellfish
Diet Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low Sugar, Low-Carb, Low-Fat, Pescatarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings


for fish stock

  • 480 grams onion (~2 medium s, chopped)
  • 2 ribs celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 head garlic (peeled and smashed)
  • 750 milliliters dry white wine (pinot grigio works well)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 pounds fish bones and heads chopped into chunks (red snapper works well)
  • 15 large shrimp with heads (preferably with orange roe)
  • 2 dungeness crab live
  • 5 sprigs thyme fresh
  • 1 large sprig oregano fresh
  • 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (less if you use regular salt)

for Cioppino

  • 2 small onions (chopped)
  • 5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tomatoes roma (chopped with seeds)
  • 1/3 cups basil (chopped)
  • 1.5 kilogram tomatoes stewed (crushed with hands)
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 900 grams sea bass (cut into large chunks)
  • 1360 grams clams live manilla
  • chervil flat leaf parsley or for garnish


  1. Remove the heads from the shrimp as well as the legs and shells, but leave the tails on. Set the shells aside for the stock, then devein the shrimp by making a shallow incision along the back side of the shrimp from head to tail and removing any brown "gunk".
  2. Remove the legs and claws from the crab by twisting and pulling, this will subdue the poor guy pretty quickly. Remove the little flap on the underside of the crab then pry the top shell away from the body, reserving for the stock. Use a wrench or nutcracker to crack the legs and claws. Cut each body into 4 segments. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Heat a large stockpot over medium heat until hot. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil then add the onions, celery, parsnips, and garlic. Fry until soft, fragrant and starting to brown around the edges.
  4. Add the wine and turn up to heat to bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes to burn off the alcohol.
  5. Add the water, fish bones, shrimp heads/shells, the top shells of the crab, thyme, oregano, parsley, bay leaves, and salt. Bring this to a boil and skim off any foam that accumulates on the surface.
  6. Once there is no more foam forming, turn the heat down to medium low, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  7. Strain through a colander and press on the solids with a potato masher to get every last bit of stock out. Discard the solids.
  8. Rinse the pot, place over medium heat and add a splash of oil. Fry the onions and garlic until soft and fragrant, then add the tomatoes and basil.
  9. Return the fish stock you made to the pot along with the crushed stewed tomatoes, and anchovy, and bring to a boil.
  10. Lower the heat to medium low then add the crab, snapper, and clams and cover the pot. Let this simmer until the clams are open and the fish is cooked (about 10 minutes).
  11. Add the shrimp and continue cooking until the shrimp just turn pink (another minute or two).
  12. Serve the Cioppino in large bowls with some chopped parsley or chervil to garnish, and a big hunk of crusty sourdough bread.


Note: if you use precooked crab, add it in at the very end along with the shrimp