Cioppino and our trip to Cinque Terra, Italy

“Favorite Son” came home from college for the weekend, and requested one of his favorite dishes called “Cioppino”.  He and his dad have ALWAYS LOVED this dish, and since we were celebrating several things that evening with a very nice bottle of Champagne, I agreed.

Cioppino, (pronounced chə-ˈpē-nō) actually came to the U.S. by way of Italian immigrants who had settled in the San Francisco area.  If a fisherman came back at the end of the day empty handed, he would take his pot and walk around to other fisherman asking for any leftover fish they could “chip in”.  Whatever ended up in their pot would become their Cioppino! The dish later became a staple as Italian restaurants started popping up all over San Francisco.

Today, similar dishes are found in coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean. Generally, the seafood in the stew is cooked in broth and served in the shell. You can also serve what is called “lazy man’s cioppino”, referencing the fact that all shells have been removed prior to serving…not as much fun, but much less messy!!

My fondest memory of enjoying Cioppino is from our trip to Cinque Terra in northwestern Italy.  Vernazza, one of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terra region is one of the most quaint little fishing villages on the Italian Riviera…just breathtaking!  Hubby and I hiked from Monterosso al Mare (the first of the villages) up one side of the mountain and then down to the next village of Vernazza.  We lunched at a little cafe called Taverna Del Capitano and had the most wonderful Cioppino we’d ever tasted!

This particular recipe is one I’ve adapted from Chef Tyler Florence after trying several different styles.  While it’s not necessarily authentic due to the added Spanish chorizo, it makes for a much heartier broth, and my boys say it’s their favorite!  Please don’t mistake Spanish chorizo for Mexican chorizo–it’s definitely not the same!  Click on this “link” for a wonderful Spanish chorizo that’s actually made right here in my own home town of Boerne, Texas! Serve with a nice crusty loaf of french bread for soaking up all that delicious broth! Bon Appétit!!


Cioppino served at Taverna Del Capitano in Vernazza

Monterosso al Mare

We hiked up Monterosso al Mare…about a 3 hour hike!


Cinque Terra

It’s a beautiful hike meandering through lots of vineyards, and the locals living along the hike are so friendly!



HELLO Vernazza!! Once you’ve hiked to the top of the mountain, this is the view you feast your eyes on! Just breathtaking!


Vernazza, Cinque Terra, Italy

Each little inlet is it’s own fishing village only accessible by boat or train.


Vernazza, Cinque Terra, Italy

Isn’t this just GORGEOUS?

Cioppino-Seafood Stew

adapted from Tyler Florence


  • 5 links “Spanish” chorizo
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 (28-ounce) can Marzano tomatoes, drained, hand-crushed with juice reserved 
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 16 clams, scrubbed
  • 16 mussels, scrubbed
  • 16 large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12-15 bay scallops
  • 1 small filet of cod (cut into 4 pieces approx 3-inches each)
  • 1/4 bunch Italian parsley, chopped for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil


In the bowl of a food processor, place chorizo, onion, garlic, celery and tomatoes, and pulse until pieces are small and well ground up.  Transfer this mixture to a Dutch oven, and cook over medium heat until well colored and fat is rendered. Once cooked, add the flour, thyme and bay leaves, and sauté for another 5 to 7 minutes (this forms the base of a roux). Add red wine, reserved tomato juice and chicken stock. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. With 10 minutes left go, bring to a boil and add the clams and mussels.  Cover and steam until mussels and clams open (5-7 minutes) and discard any that don’t open. Reduce the heat to simmer, nestle fish into bottom of pot, add scallops and shrimp, cover, and simmer just until cooked.  This will only take a few minutes, so be careful not to overcook.  Remove the bay leaves, ladle into large shallow bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Serve with a crusty french bread!

Bon Appétit!

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • Any mixture of seafood will work in this stew, so choose your favorites! Throw in some crab legs or maybe try a couple of whole Dungeness crabs (cut into about 6 pieces).  If you don’t like cod, try halibut or any other firm white fish.  Just add all the seafood at the last part of cooking so it’s not overcooked!
  • I can’t emphasize enough the importance of using “Spanish” chorizo and NOT Mexican chorizo.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂












4 Responses

  1. Sounds delicious. I have been making this dish since I was first introduced to it, in my college days. Thanks for reminding me. I will definitely be making this Fall.

  2. Liz, Thanks for putting me on your blog email list.  I always love Skip’s pictures and your amazing recipes!!  I will just live vicariously through you.  I will text you about leaves when we get to Quebec City…Sept 30-Oct 1. Loved our visit at lunch yesterday!! HugsCheryl

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