Monday, February 19, 2007

Cioppino, the Italian New Mexican way

When I first moved to New Mexico, my husband did all the cooking. He was a great fan of chili, and used to put chilis in everything. I was from the east coast, however, and not really used to that much spice. One day he put some green chili in a fish dish that he made, and I rebelled. "Can't we have ANYTHING without chili in it?" He said "OK", and from that day he ceased to put chili in anything. After about 2 weeks, I went to him like an addict needing a fix. "Can we please have something with chilis in it?" I asked sheepishly. "Sure!" Chilis were back, and I've relied upon them as a source of comfort (and vitamin C) ever since.

And so I'm dedicating this week's recipe to Bob. Sure, I got some ideas from "Grandfather's Cioppino" but in the spirit of the kind of cooking he taught me, I tweaked it according to whim and what I had on hand. You were right, Bob. Fish with chili is not such a bad idea after all.

2 TBS olive oil
1 large onion
3 celery stalks, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can crushed or diced tomatoes - I think mine was 14oz.
Fresh tomatoes, chunked. I had some grape tomatoes that needed using - about 1 1/2 C
1 C dry red wine
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
a few vigorous shakes of dried oregano
a vigorous shake of ground cinnamon
1 TBS crushed red pepper flakes
1 whole red chili or jalapeno - kept whole.
2 C water
1 fish boullion cube (shhhhh! Don't tell the culinary cops!)

Fish: I used the following, approximately a big handful of each:

Sea Bass
Bay Scallops

In a heavy stockpot over medium high heat, sautee onion, celery and garlic till the onion is translucent
Add the next 8 ingredients and stir, then reduce heat to medium
Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add water and boullion cube (or 2+ cups of homemade stock, if you have any and haven't run out as I did!) and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add fish, starting with the densest, heaviest fish first, and moving to the lightest fish last. In my case, I started with the tuna and sea bass and ended with the shrimp and scallops, as they only take about 3 minutes to cook.

This dish is great to make for parties. You can prepare everything but the fish ahead of time. The pot can be on the stove and kept warm until you sense your guests are ready for food. Turn the heat up under the pot, drop the fish in and voila! A spectacular meal, served with fresh sourdough or baguette slices.

This soup is my response to Alanna's Soup Month over at Veggie Venture. It seems that not all soups need be vegetarian for this event, so if you haven't yet "dished", please do!

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Unknown said...

I love the photos here, Toni.

I've added your link to my blog now. I am still slow, I guess.

Love the fusion here — wish I had more time today!

Anonymous said...

What a great recipe - Excellence achieved again, Toni! This is an wonderful addition to Alanna's Soup's On.

Freya said...

Delicious soup! Thanks for the add by the way, I will return the favour! I come across lots of sites that I forget to link to and then I lose them and this is one I like to keep tabs on!!

Patricia Scarpin said...


This soup looks so hearty and strong, perfect!

Oh, boy, it's been so hot here that I almost forgot how much I love soup - especially with some good bread to go with it. ;)

Toni said...

Mimi - Thanks for the add!

Chris - Thanks! Always love it when a good cook likes my stuff!

Freya - Thanks so much for returning the favor. I know what you mean about losing some cool sites. I've done that, and I haven't a clue how to get back to them. It's why I had to add yours....

Patricia - When it's that hot, forget the soup! You'll get your turn in July, when it will cool down for you.

Jann said...

Just passing through and found your site! What a wonderful soup-I never can get enough of the spices in my diet-love it! Cheers!

Alanna Kellogg said...

Hi Toni ~ Well the host's late to this party but it sure looks like you've found plenty of 'guests', all on your own. Your blog's looking lovely, thanks so much for making Soup's On a part of it!

And cioppino is one of my very favorite soups, ever, so much that I often serve for Christmas Eve supper. It's in an old Kitchen Parade column, I'll have to post it some time!

Toni said...

Hi Jann - Thanks for stopping by. I tried and tried to post a comment on your site, but it never worked! Anyway, I loved your quick lunch of bread, cheese, apples, walnuts and champagne. I'm all over that one!

Alanna - I'm looking forward to seeing your recipe for cioppino! And thanks for hosting the soup event!

Linda said...

Cioppino is Vito's favorite dish. He travels miles and miles to restaurants all over his tri-state area to try different versions. Vito is my father --- if you're making cioppino -- i simply must ask you if you've made pio po (i think that's the spelling). it's a black sauce made from squid ink. Pop's been searching for a recipe, and despite my constant food blog exploration, I have yet to find this recipe.