Cioppino Recipe- An Italian Christmas Tradition

Many of us Italian-Americans celebrate Christmas with the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

This is one of my favorite recipes with its slight heat, the tang of lemon and tenderness of the seafood in a very light tomato sauce. I used to make this dish long before I knew it was called “Cioppino”. It was a family recipe that has evolved over the years. (Important: Don’t overcook the fish.)


2 TB olive oil
4 cloves of fresh garlic
8 oz quality white wine
2 lb of vine-ripened tomatoes or
1/2 jar of quality tomato sauce
juice of one lemon
1 bottle clam juice
1 carton of vegetable stock or water
2 lb of vine-ripened tomatoes or
1 jar of quality tomato sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
red pepper flakes to taste (about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp)
2 filets of white fish, no skin
(snapper, grouper etc.)
1 lb of large shrimp (U12-15)
1/2 lb of dayboat scallops, cut in half lengthwise
1 TB fresh parsley
In a large pot, heat olive oil to medium high. Smash garlic and leave whole (you might want to remove the green sprout in the middle, as it is very strong). Core and dice tomatoes (if using). Add garlic to pot and after it sizzles slightly, add white wine. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes, then add tomatoes or tomato sauce. Let come to a boil, then turn down to simmer. Add lemon juice, clam juice, salt, red pepper flakes and enough stock or water to make the Cioppino the consistency of somewhere between a soup and a stew. Dice fish into bite-sized chunks. Add to simmering broth. After about 3 minutes, add the shrimp and scallops. Let simmer for about 2 minutes. Mince parsley and add to pot. Serve steaming hot in bowls along with some crusty bread.
Elizabeth Dougherty has been a food writer for over 10 years, attended culinary school and holds a Bachelor’s degree, Magna Cum Laude in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations from NYIT. She has been a talk show host of nearly 150 episodes of Food Nation Radio which airs each Saturday afternoon at 4 on WWBA AM820 News and  other stations. You can read her articles and hear previous shows on her podcast page on the Food Nation Radio Network website and on Facebook.