Cioppino is an Italian-American seafood stew that originated in San Francisco in the 1930s, when fishermen brought their fresh catch to the docks and a little bit of everything was added to the soup pot the workers shared—which is one urban-legend explanation for the name; some sources claim “cioppino” was Italian-American slang for “chip in”. In reality, it derives from a Ligurian soup called ciuppin, which literally means chopped. The base of the stew is a wonderfully garlicky tomato broth with white wine and herbs, but the type of seafood you use is endlessly adaptable, so don’t feel constrained by this specific recipe (which was inspired, in part, by two of our Chowhound users, nstrada and giod).
Variations: The whole point is to use whatever’s freshest, and whatever you like best, so add crab or lobster, or double up on the shrimp and cut out the mussels, even try adding salmon in place of the firm white fish, or a little sliced calamari at the very end of cooking; just shoot for about 5 pounds of seafood in total. Some people like to sauté a little chopped celery and carrot along with the onion, and even a bit of bell pepper for additional sweetness, but we’ve gone light on the vegetables in general to really highlight the seafood. Feel free to add more to your mirepoix if you prefer.
Serve with: Garlic bread or toasted sourdough—perfect for mopping up all the rich, sweet, garlicky tomato broth left in the bowl.
Make ahead: You can make the broth a day or so ahead and refrigerate it, which can help to meld the flavors, then bring it back to a gentle simmer and cook the seafood in it just prior to serving.
Photo by Foodio/Shutterstock.