We’re having something so special for dinner tonight – seafood cioppino with charred bread. It’s this spicy, rich, tomato-based broth full of shrimp, halibut, mussels, and clams. Served with a side of olive oil charred bread. It is perfect for a dinner party or even just a cozy night at home.
I made many, many things over the holidays. Any chance I could get I’d be whipping up large appetizer spreads, rich pasta and potato dishes, herb crusted roasts, and one million desserts. Seafood cioppino (or “fish stew”) was one of the dishes that kept popping up in my kitchen. Mainly because I made it one weekend, and my brothers begged for it again and again. Anything full of seafood that’s spicy and has the ability to be soaked in bread is their kind of meal.
And for good reason! This dish is such a favorite classic of mine. It’s warming and hearty, and also feels really special. I think that’s why it’s typically made around the holidays…but honestly, I think this is the PERFECT winter recipe for all these cold months ahead.
Picture a cold Friday night, snow falling, and cozying up with a steaming bowl of seafood cioppino. It just sounds very right to me.
I added lots of fennel and chili peppers to mine, with hints of shallot and lemon. The seafood is great and all, but really the best part is taking the crusty, charred bread and dipping it in the broth. Trust me, it’ll be hard to stop.
If you want to make this for a dinner party, here’s my suggestion! Start the broth about 45 minutes before your guests arrive (and maybe slice the bread, too). Once it’s done simmering, just keep it warm on the stove. When you’re ready to serve, get the heat going again and stir in the seafood (plus, char the bread in a hot skillet). It’ll be ready in no time and that way the seafood + bread are nice and fresh.Print
Seafood Cioppino with Charred Bread
a rich, spicy tomato-based broth full of shrimp, halibut, mussels, and clams + served with crusty, charred bread
- olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 fennel bulb, diced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 red fresno chili peppers, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- kosher salt
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 ½ qts fish (or vegetable) stock
- 1 lb manila clams, scrubbed
- 1 lb mussels, debearded and scrubbed
- 1 lb halibut, cut into 2” chunks
- 1 ½ lbs raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 loaf crusty bread, sliced ½” thick
- fennel fronds & lemon juice, to garnish
- Heat a large, heavy-bottom pot (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion, fennel, shallot, and chili peppers. Sauté until tender and slightly caramelized, about 6 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and fennel seeds. Cook for another minute or two. Season everything with a generous pinch of salt.
- Add a splash more olive oil and stir in the tomato paste until incorporated. Deglaze the pot with the white wine, scrapping all the bits off the bottom. Let the liquid come to a bubble and simmer for a minute or two.
- Add the fish stock. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring often.
- Add in the clams and mussels. Cover the pot and simmer just until the shells begin to open, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and halibut. Continue to simmer until the shrimp is pink and the fish is cooked through. Discard any clams or mussels that have not opened at this point.
- Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is smoking hot, work in batches to char the bread quickly on both sides, adding a little bit of olive oil for each slice. Transfer each slice of bread to a plate once charred and immediately sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
- Serve the cioppino with a squeeze of lemon juice, a few fennel fronds on top, and the charred bread on the side.