This super easy cioppino seafood stew is perfect for a crowd. Just dump a few pantry ingredients in the soup pot for the base. Then add fresh or frozen shrimp, fish, or whatever seafood you like.
This easy no-fail dump recipe is a real crowd-pleaser. The last time I made it for a big family gathering everyone had seconds and my teenage nephews had three or four bowls each.
What makes this recipe so great is that it looks fancy, but it takes hardly any effort. This is not your traditional cioppino where you have to chop all the vegetables and make everything from scratch. I used to make it that way until my husband came up with this method. I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but this recipe is so good---and so much easier---I'll never go back.
What is cioppino?
Cioppino is a classic seafood stew with a mix of seafood cooked in a tomato-based broth. This Italian-American shellfish and fish stew originated in San Francisco. Different versions include everything from mussels, clams, shrimp, and different types of fish to Dungeness crab, scallops or lobster---no two recipes are alike.
While cioppino is similar to bouillabaisse, it has more of a tomato-based where bouillabaisse broth has fewer tomatoes and more fish stock and other vegetables like leeks, fennel, and potatoes. Bouillabaisse is also served with garlic sauce on top that you can stir in before eating eat. (It is one of my favorite dishes to order in a French restaurant, but I find it a little too fussy to make at home.)
How to make an easy cioppino seafood stew
As this is a dump recipe, we take quite a few liberties with the traditional cioppino recipe. First is the stock. While fish stock or clam juice is usually used, it's not something we keep on hand so we substitute vegetable broth.
Second, the slow-cooked flavor of the stew base comes from pasta sauce. Using a combination of this spicy arrabbiata sauce and this all-purpose marinara sauce provides the perfect amount of heat, along with the olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes normally found in cioppino. No need to add olive oil, red pepper flakes, herbs, or crushed tomatoes.
Lastly for the fish and shellfish, we generally stick to shrimp, a firm white fish like cod or haddock, and bay scallops. They are all easy to find and we usually have them in the freezer. You can always feel free to add clams and mussels, langostino lobster, or any other seafood you like.
I would not recommend using a strongly flavored fish like salmon or tuna as it can change the flavor. Stick with milder white fish like cod, sea bass, halibut or a local fresh catch.
The method really is as simple as dumping everything in the soup pot. Use a large enameled dutch oven and add the stock, tomato sauces and roasted red peppers to the pot. Let the mixture come to a simmer while you cut the fish into chunks and prep the shrimp.
If you have shell-on shrimp, this tool makes it fast and easy to peel and devein the shrimp at the same time. (If they're frozen, just thaw the shrimp in a bowl of cold water before peeling.)
Here's a quick video showing how to peel and devein shrimp at the same time using a shrimp peeler.
Once the broth is simmering, add the shrimp, fish, and scallops and simmer until just cooked through.
If you are using clams or mussels, add them first then add the other seafood once they just start to open. They should be completely open by the time the shrimp and fish are cooked through. Be sure to discard any clams or mussels that do not open all the way.
Serve the cioppino with crusty bread and a fresh green salad for an easy meal.
More easy dinner recipes to try
- 21 Easy Frozen Shrimp Recipes For Quick Dinners
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- 1 32-oz carton vegetable broth, or more to taste
- 1 24-oz jar Rao's Homemade Arrabbiata Fra Diavolo sauce (hot)
- 1 24-oz jar Rao's Homemade marinara sauce
- 1 16-oz jar roasted red peppers, chopped
- 2 lbs. wild-caught pacific cod (skinless and boneless) or other firm white fish
- 1 lb. extra large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 lb. scallops
- white wine, optional to taste
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Add the stock, tomato sauces, roasted red peppers and wine if using to a large enameled dutch oven and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a simmer.
- Cut the fish into large chunks and peel and devein the shrimp if needed.
- Once the broth is simmering, add the shrimp, fish, and scallops. Cover and simmer until just cooked through.
If you like a thinner broth, add more stock or white wine to taste.
If using clams and mussels: add them first, then add the other seafood once they start to open. Be sure to discard any clams or mussels that do not open all the way.
Serve the cioppino with crusty bread and a simple salad.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 461Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 184mgSodium: 1841mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 50g