As cioppino was initially invented by a bunch of hungry Italian-American fishermen, there’s little here except good seafood and plenty of flavor. For this version, we use equal amounts of clams, mussels, shrimp, and cod. However, you can also use crab or even scallops if that’s what you have or prefer. In place of cod, any white firm-fleshed fish, like haddock or halibut, will do. Even salmon without the skin would work here!
It’s also important that the seafood you use, whatever its variety, is raw, scrubbed and cleaned. The mussels should be debearded, which means any errant “hairs” or “beards” coming out of the shell opening should be pulled out. The shrimp for cioppino need to be raw, peeled, and deveined. Cooked or canned seafood will have less flavor and won’t help give taste to the broth, so skip it if you don’t have any fresh.
Other than fish and seafood, cioppino requires fresh fennel, onion, garlic, fresh parsley, and tomatoes. We recommend using a can of diced tomatoes for ease of use and availability — plus, they might help boost your iron. White wine, olive oil, chicken or seafood stock, chili, and a dried bay leaf complete the flavoring for this soup. Choose a semi-dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.