I made my first pot of cioppino (Italian-American fish stew) last night and it was delicious. We used frozen shrimp from the Korean grocer down the street, canned clams and “fresh” cod; the broth was tomato based, seasoned with basil and oregano as well as onion and a little bit of garlic and white wine. Adding some awesome texture and pops of green colour were diced green peppers and string beans. I’d love to make this with all fresh ingredients this summer, but for now, on a snowy February day, this bowl-full is perfect as is. We nibbled on some crackers but the soup deserves a good crusty bread, I’d say. The mug pictured above contains my PMS soothing tea, not a required pairing, of course.
It was developed in the late 1800s by Portuguese and Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach section of San Francisco. Originally it was made on the boats while out at sea and later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco. The name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect of the port city of Genoa, meaning “to chop” or “chopped” which described the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the days catch. At least one restaurant in San Francisco, the eponymous Cioppino’s, describes an apocryphal story in which the name derived from the heavily Italian-accented cry of the wharf cooks for the fishermen to “chip in” some of their catch to the collective soup pot.