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San Francisco Cioppino (Fisherman’s Stew)

This San Francisco Cioppino is a unique Italian-American specialty that’ll leave you wanting more! Also known as “Fisherman’s Stew,” the soup is filled with clams, mussels, shrimp, and cod. It’s a hearty and healthy stew recipe perfect for chilly winter evenings.

Easy Homemade Cioppino (Fisherman’s Stew)

They say no trip to San Francisco is complete without an authentic bowl of cioppino, the unforgettable town’s delicious and distinctive seafood stew. But, did you know that it’s actually really easy and quick to whip up a homemade version?

I think that most of us probably don’t eat enough seafood. It’s really good for you, but often seems intimidating to make, especially shellfish. Plus, depending on where you live, fish and shellfish can be expensive. So if you don’t feel confident about cooking seafood to begin with, you definitely won’t feel confident about spending extra money on it, right?

But, fear no more! Next time you see a beautiful basket of mussels or tray of shrimp on the ice at your local grocery store, take advantage of them and try this easy recipe.

overhead photo of a blue bowl with tomato stew and mussels, clams, cod, and shrimp served with a slice of bread

Also? Next time you see mussels, shrimp, and clams in your grocer’s freezer, take advantage and make this recipe! For real. I do it all the time. Plus, it’s a great place to start, and the result is full of nutrition and flavor!

What is Cioppino?

This stew originated in the 1800s in San Francisco with Italian immigrants who fished off Meiggs Wharf. They were often dependent upon their daily catch to feed their families, so if they came home empty handed, they would walk around the wharf with a pot asking other fishermen if they could chip in whatever they could for an evening meal.

Bits and pieces of various kinds of seafood would be added to the pot, hence the name of this seafood stew. The word “cioppino” means “chopped” or “torn to pieces.”

Ingredients For Cioppino

  • Oil: Use avocado or olive oil for sautéing.
  • Fennel: Slice one bulb thinly.
  • Shallots: Adds unique flavor to the broth.
  • Garlic: Use four cloves of fresh, minced garlic.
  • Tomato Paste: Boosts flavor, just as a good wine would.
  • Tomatoes: Use canned for tangy, intense flavor.
  • Stock: Use seafood stock for authenticity or chicken stock for convenience.
  • Wine: Include a cup of dry white wine.
  • Bay Leaf: Key for enhancing flavor in seafood soups.
  • Clams and Mussels: Half a pound of each, cleaned and debearded.
  • Shrimp: Use fresh, raw shrimp that’s peeled and deveined.
  • Cod: A pound of firm cod fillet prevents breakage in the soup. Cut into two-inch pieces.
  • Fresh Parsley: Chop a quarter-cup.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Optional, for heat.
    cooking fennel in dutch oven

    How to Make Cioppino

    This dish comes together very quickly once you get to the cooking stage, so it’s good to prepare and set out your ingredients before you start cooking.

    1. Sauté the Aromatics. Place a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil, allowing it to heat; then add the fennel and shallots and cook them for about six minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, along with the salt and pepper, and cook for a couple of minutes longer.
    2. Add the Broth Ingredients. To your sautéed vegetables, add the tomato paste and stir well, followed by the diced tomatoes, seafood (or chicken) stock, and wine. Toss in the bay leaf, and simmer all of these ingredients, covered, for about ten minutes.
    3. Add the Shellfish. Uncover the pot and add the clams and mussels; cover again, and cook for about 4 minutes, until the clams and mussels begin to open up.
    4. Add the Shrimp and Cod. To the simmering soup, add the diced cod; simmer for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just cooked through. Stir occasionally.
    5. Finish the Dish. As always, taste for salt and pepper, and adjusting accordingly. Remove and discard the bay leaf, as well as any clams or mussels that didn’t open. Ladle Cioppino into bowls and garnish each one with parsley and red pepper flakes (if desired). Serve with lemons.
    wide overhead close up photo of cioppino in a dutch oven

    Tips for Success

    • Seafood Varieties: Feel free to switch up the types of seafood based on what’s fresh and available. Clams, crab, squid, or different types of fish can all work well.
    • Clam Juice: Seafood stock will keep the taste of the soup at its best! But, for a seafood flavor without stock, mix equal parts bottled clam juice and water.
    • Broth Flavor: Taste your broth as you cook and adjust the seasonings as necessary. If it tastes a bit flat, a little extra salt might be all you need.
    • Seafood Forks and Napkins: Eating cioppino, or any shellfish dish, can get messy. Prepare for a hands-on meal, use seafood forks for shell removal, and ensure plenty of napkins are available.
    • Serve Immediately: Have all serving dishes, drinks, sides, and seating ready. Cioppino is best enjoyed hot, right after cooking.
    close up shot of cioppino stew in a soup bowl

    What To Serve With Cioppino?

    • Sangria: Since I try to make cioppino just before serving, I like to serve a nice cocktail or glass of wine while everything cooks. This Easy White Wine Sangria would be an amazing choice!
    • Crusty bread: A thick slice or two of crusty bread is incredible with this stew. I like to dip it in the bowl and then bite into a crunchy slice soaked with seafood flavors. This No Knead Olive Oil Bread would be fabulous! 
    • Pizza: Okay, maybe this is a little counterintuitive, but a delicious artisan pizza makes a wonderful accompaniment to soup. Hot, crispy, and melty, it just works! Try this Easy Grilled Pizza and see for yourself!
    seafood tomato stew in a blue soup bowl served with a slice of crusty bread and a spoon

    How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

    • 2-Hour Rule: Store leftover cioppino in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking in an airtight container, where it’ll keep for 3 to 4 days. Also, remove shellfish from their shells and discard the shells before refrigerating the stew.
    • Reheat the seafood stew over medium heat. Be careful not to overcook it. Seafood is delicate and will easily dry out.


    overhead close up photo of cioppino in a dutch oven


    Katerina | Diethood
    Dubbed the "Fisherman's Stew," this easy and delicious Cioppino recipe is packed with fresh seafood such as clams, mussels, shrimp, and cod.
    4.91 from 10 votes
    Servings : 6 servings
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 30 minutes
    Total Time 40 minutes


    • 2 tablespoons avocado oil, or olive oil
    • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
    • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
    • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
    • 14 ounces canned tomatoes, undrained
    • 5 cups low sodium seafood broth, or chicken broth
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1 bay leaf
    • ½ pound clams, scrubbed
    • ½ pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded (you can buy them cleaned and debearded, but still check for the beard before cooking them)
    • ½ pound cod fillet, skin removed, cut into 2-inch dice
    • ½ pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
    • crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish, optional
    • Lemon wedges, for serving


    • Heat oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven or stockpot set over medium heat.
    • Add the sliced fennel and shallots; cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    • Stir in garlic, salt, and black pepper; cook for 2 more minutes.
    • Add tomato paste; stir to combine.
    • Stir in diced tomatoes, seafood or chicken stock, and wine.
    • Add bay leaf; cover and bring to a simmer.
    • Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer covered for 10 minutes.
    • Remove cover and add the clams and mussels; cover and cook for 4 minutes, or until clams and mussels begin to open.
    • Add the cod; cover and cook for 3 minutes.
    • Add in the shrimp and cook uncovered for 2 to 3 more minutes, or until cooked through. Stir occasionally.
    • Remove from heat. Taste soup for salt and pepper; adjust accordingly.
    • Discard any clams and mussels that didn’t open.
    • Remove bay leaf.
    • Garnish with parsley and red pepper flakes.
    • Serve with lemons.


    • Frozen Seafood: If you can’t find fresh fish and shellfish, use frozen. I have made this stew with frozen seafood, and it’s really good! I don’t even thaw it out; just add everything to the hot broth, and it will cook through in minutes.
    • Broth Flavor: Taste your broth as you cook and adjust the seasonings as necessary. If it’s bland, a little more salt.
    • Serving: Serve the Cioppino hot and with crusty bread on the side for dipping into the flavorful broth.
    • Wine Pairing: Pair your Cioppino with a light, crisp white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio to complement the rich flavors of the dish.
    • Seafood Varieties: Feel free to switch up the types of seafood based on what’s fresh and available. Clams, crab, squid, or different types of fish can all work well.


    Serving: 1.5 cups | Calories: 235 kcal | Carbohydrates: 13 g | Protein: 23 g | Fat: 7 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 119 mg | Sodium: 737 mg | Potassium: 885 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 4 g | Vitamin A: 981 IU | Vitamin C: 23 mg | Calcium: 118 mg | Iron: 3 mg | Net Carbs: 10 g

    Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

    Course: Dinner, Soup
    Cuisine: Italian
    Keyword: fish stew, healthy stew recipe, seafood cioppino, seafood stew
    Did you make this recipe?Leave a Rating!


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