If you live in California you know that we've had some of the sunniest weather during winter that we've had in a long time. I hear it's finally suppose to rain (which means snow in the mountains and possibly a future day trip *fingers crossed*) but until then we've been making-do with the sun during the day and the iciness at night! One of the things I couldn't wait for this winter was the opportunity to make soups, or in my case some Cioppino. I couldn't have picked a more suiting night because both of our colds started the night of making it, after that we were out of it for about a week. The soup was hearty, warm, and really really delicious and full of amazing seafood. You're sold right? Good! :)
We've made this before so I was able to make everything pretty quickly. The hardest part is not constantly tasting it while it's cooking.
What You'll Need:
1/2 p shrimp
1/2 p mussels
1/2 p small scallops
1/2 C olive oil
1 Tbsp garlic
1/2 of an onion
14 oz diced canned tomatoes
1 C of seafood broth
1 C of white or red wine
3 to 6 oz of tomato paste
diced chile pepper or cayenne pepper
Linguini or other thin pasta (optional)
We went to Whole Foods to get the mussels because I've never had a bad piece of seafood from them. But the best thing about this dish is that you can use whatever seafood you love, whatever is in season, or whatever you already have. It's a dish that has a lot of variations, would you expect any different from a dish that originated in San Francisco?
Cooking mussels is something that I had never done before making this dish but it's really easy now. Start by putting a small amount of water in a pot large enough to hold all of the mussels and keep it on low heat. After about 5 minutes the steam is going to allow the mussels to open. I only had to discard two because they didn't open, all the other ones opened and looked amazing. When you're done with this liquid strain it into a cup so you can use it later on. If the broth didn't make a cup you can add oyster juice to get it to a cup.
I cooked all of the shrimp and scallops the same way - in a small of amount of hot water because I had some bags of frozen, already cooked shrimp and scallops so they only needed to be defrosted. I checked them constantly to to make sure they weren't frozen so I could remove them from the heat as soon as possible. I knew that I'd be putting them in the hot soup later on so I didn't want them to over-cook.
When you start the rest of the Cioppino then chop up your onion and saute it with some olive oil. When they start to get soft, add the chopped garlic and the chile pepper or cayenne. When I use a pepper then I leave them in halves so they're easier to take out after.... one of us doesn't always like the heat... If you're using cayenne then just add a little here because you'll be adding more later on.
When everything is cooked, add the canned tomato, the mussel broth, wine, and tomato paste. If you're using white wine I suggest more tomato paste (3 oz.) but less if using red. For this batch I used red, which is delicious but white wine will always have my heart (and therefore always be stocked in my fridge). This is also when you can taste it and see what it needs. I added the basil, parsley, salt and pepper. I also added some more cayenne because I wanted a little more kick. Let this cook for 20 minutes. Oh and don't forget that if you're adding pasta, you should cook it now too.
When the sauce has gotten thicker then add the seafood so that can heat up and absorb some of the flavor.
While everything is heating up cut a loaf of french or sourdough bread. I prefer sourdough but I'm a native Californian so it I just think it goes with everything. Any kind of "crusty" rustic bread will work - you just need it to soak up all of the awesome broth!
Once everything is warmed up and the noodles are done, you can either add the noodles to the pot or plate them first then use a ladle to spoon everything over the pasta.
The Cioppino is a little spicy but full of seafood, tomatoes and a really rich broth that has the most amazing seafood taste. Mike loves this meal and was so happy when he came home from work and found it ready. And I don't blame him. This with a glass of wine deserves a big cheers! So CHEERS my fellow foodies! Enjoy!