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New England Cioppino

The classic San Francisco Italian seafood stew made with tomatoes, wine and fresh herbs. A New England cioppino simply uses any type of fresh New England shellfish and fish your heart desires. You can't go wrong with any combination of quahogs (New England's iconic clams), blue mussels, squid, crab, lobster, sea or bay scallops and a mix of both lean and fatty fish.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Craig Fear

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions diced
  • 4-6 garlic cloves minced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes or less or more if you prefer less or more kick
  • 2 TBSPs tomato paste
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup moderate dry red wine see notes below
  • 1 quart fish stock or lobster stock or 2 cups clam juice plus 2 cups water or fish stock
  • 1 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 2 pounds littleneck clams
  • 1 pound mussels
  • 1 pound lean white fish such as cod, haddock, pollack, porgy, black sea bass, blackfish, monkfish, halibut
  • 1 pound fatty fish such as striped bass, bluefish, mackerel, swordfish
  • 1 pound Gulf shrimp
  • ½ pound scallops and/or squid optional
  • ½ pound crab meat or several whole crabs or crab legs optional

Optional Seasonings, to Taste

  • Fresh parsley chopped
  • Fresh basil chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot, at least 10 quarts, add onions and saute for about 5 minutes until softened and translucent.
  2. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaves and red pepper flakes and saute one more minute. Add tomato paste, stir frequently, and saute another minute.
  3. Add tomatoes, wine, stock and red wine vinegar. Raise heat to a gentle boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 30 more minutes.
  4. Add clams and simmer 5-7 minutes or until shells open.
  5. Add mussels and simmer 3-5 minutes or until shells open.
  6. Add fish, shrimp, and optional scallops, squid and crab meat. Add more stock and/or water, if needed. Simmer about 5-10 minutes or until fish is cooked through and easily flakes apart.
  7. Ladle into individual bowls and add optional seasonings, to taste.

Recipe Notes

Though white wine is also a good choice, I opt for red, which pairs well with tomatoes in a stew and adds a deeper, richer flavor than white. Avoid very tannin-heavy full bodied red wines like Cabernet which can leave an acrid flavor. Choose more moderate dry reds like Merlot or Pinot Noir.