Seafood Stew à la Ina Garten: Cioppino-inspired Delight - Foodiecrush (2024)

Seafood Stew à la Ina Garten: Cioppino-inspired Delight

No need for chef skills to whip up this Barefoot Contessa-inspired cioppino! This simple and healthy seafood stew brims with shrimp, cod, mussels, and clams, promising a quick dinner from fridge to table in under an hour.

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Upon my initial tasting of cioppino in San Francisco years ago, I was captivated by this classic Italian fish stew. However, it was only after trying Ina Garten’s cioppino recipe that I rediscovered the same delightful flavors reminiscent of that first unforgettable bite. Ina’s rendition of cioppino is not only exquisite but also surprisingly speedy and uncomplicated to prepare. It’s a dish worthy of any night of the week, not just reserved for special occasions. This particular recipe hails from none other than Ina Garten, America’s beloved cookbook author, featured in her latest cookbook, “Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks.” In her book, she empowers home cooks like myself with her easy, delectable recipes. Yet, it’s this nourishing and abundant seafood cioppino that truly satisfies my cravings and serves as a tribute to that unfortunate spill I caused. Today, I am delighted to share this redeeming recipe.

Cioppino, originating in San Francisco—much like my dad (go Niners!)—has its roots traced back to the 1800s. Italian immigrant fishermen would craft this seafood stew by sharing their day’s catch with those returning empty-handed. This dish is a versatile mix of ingredients, easily adaptable based on what’s available. Its name, “cioppino,” is derived from the Italian word “ciuppin,” meaning chopped.

Interestingly, variations of cioppino exist in other cultures, such as France’s bouillabaisse, a fisherman’s stew akin to its Italian counterpart.

The nuances between cioppino and bouillabaisse are subtle. Cioppino leans towards its Italian heritage, boasting a broth primarily centered around tomatoes. In contrast, bouillabaisse, being French, features a fish stock-based broth with the addition of saffron and incorporates chopped tomatoes.

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What does this Cioppino Recipe Include?

The heart of cioppino lies in its seafood selection. The choice is entirely yours, and it can encompass a variety of options such as:




Robust white fish like cod or halibut




Calamari or squid

Shucked oysters

Ina’s rendition of this cioppino recipe opts for simplicity, incorporating shrimp, cod, scallops, and mussels. However, I’ve added clams to our version because they’re a personal favorite.

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Besides your preferred seafood selection, here’s a rundown of the other essential ingredients required to prepare this authentic cioppino recipe:

Olive oil


Yellow onion


Fennel seeds

Red pepper flakes

Crushed tomatoes

Seafood stock

White wine

Anise-flavored liqueur

Fresh parsley

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Preparing Cioppino:

Crafting the base for this fisherman’s stew is remarkably simple, using canned crushed tomatoes, white wine, and seafood stock. If you can’t find seafood stock, clam juice is a suitable alternative, or you can prepare homemade seafood stock.

Sauté the onion and fennel: In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and fennel until they turn tender, about 10 minutes.

Enhance flavors: Add the garlic, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes to intensify the flavors. Cook for approximately 2 minutes until the fragrance is released.

Bring to a simmer: Combine the tomatoes, stock (or clam juice), wine, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer uncovered for 30 minutes..

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Incorporate the seafood. Place the seafood in a specific sequence: start with the cod, then add the shrimp, and scallops, and conclude with the mussels. Avoid stirring. Allow it to simmer, then reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes until the seafood is thoroughly cooked, and the shellfish open.

Blend in the liqueur. Be gentle not to disturb the fish. Cover the pot and set it aside for 3 minutes to harmonize the flavors. Discard any unopened clams or mussels.

There you have it! Dinner is ready. Remember to accompany it with crusty sourdough for dipping!

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Which Liqueur to Use?

Ina recommends using Pernod, an anise-flavored liqueur, for the final touch before serving. If unavailable, substitutes like Pastis, ouzo, or sambuca can be used in its place.

Ideal White Wine for Cioppino

For this cioppino recipe, any dry white wine, like Pinot Grigio, is suitable. Opt for a white wine that you’d enjoy drinking, avoiding those labeled specifically as “cooking wine.”

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Guidelines for Preparing Cioppino Seafood Stew

Creating this cioppino is made simpler with these valuable suggestions:

Cleanse the mussels by scrubbing the shells and then soaking them in a bowl of water mixed with a few tablespoons of flour for approximately 30 minutes. This process helps the mussels expel any hidden sand from their shells. Prior to adding them to the stew, ensure to rinse them thoroughly.

For easier consumption, I personally prefer removing the shells and tails from the shrimp before cooking them for my cioppino.

While I adore crab, I typically omit it due to the mess involved in cracking the shells after they’ve absorbed the rich tomato broth. If you choose to include crab, I recommend cutting the legs lengthwise for your guests, making it easier to extract the meat straight from the shell.

To expedite the preparation for weeknight meals or casual gatherings, consider making the soup base ahead of time—up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate it and then reheat it before adding the seafood just before serving, making the cooking process faster and more convenient.

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Seafood Stew à la Ina Garten: Cioppino-inspired Delight - Foodiecrush (2024)
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