When thinking about the complex, layered flavors present in a good cioppino, I thought for sure that making one from scratch would be complicated. This wasn't the case–the ingredient list (minus the different types of seafood) is relatively short because the fish, if good, does all the work for you in terms of taste. This dish is Italian-American through-and-through, with an origin story that places it among the immigrants living in the North Beach section of San Francisco during the late nineteenth century. I used clams, shrimp, scallops, mussels, and cod, but crab, squid, red snapper, or halibut could be substituted in. Toasty bread is a must–you'll want to sop up every last drop of broth.
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6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 (28- to 32-ounces) can whole plum tomatoes, seeded, drained and chopped, with reserved canned juice
1 cup bottled clam juice
2.5 cups seafood broth
1 1/2 pounds small (2-inch) hard-shelled clams, such as littlenecks, scrubbed
1 pound skinless cod fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 pound mussels, cleaned and debearded
3/4 pound sea scallops, tough muscle removed if necessary
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Crusty bread, toasted
1. Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes in olive oil in an 8-quart heavy pot. Stir until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. While stew is still simmering, add clams and cook, covered, until clams open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened clams to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes.
4. Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops and add to stew. Simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Return clams to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil. Serve immediately in large bowls with bread.