February Soup and Salad Supper : Cioppino

February is the start of Lent, and this soup and salad menu is great for those Friday Night Lenten Suppers.  This wonderful seafood stew has became a Ash Wednesday celebration that starts Lent.

 As a Military retiree, I’ve traveled the world and lived in many cultures. On specific location was living on the Presidio in San Francisco. It was there that I learned to enjoy shrimp, crab and lobster. This fish stew first became popular on the docks of San Francisco (now known as Fisherman’s wharf) in the 1930s.  Cioppino is thought to be the result of Italian immigrant fishermen adding something from the day’s catch to the communal stew kettle on the wharf.

Soup: San Francisco Cioppino

Salad:  Mixed Citrus with Red Onion and Escarole

Bread:  San Francisco Sourdough Bread 

Wine:  CA Sparkling White Wine

Cioppino,  Serves 6-8

This recipe is set up for mixing and matching, depending on what ingredients you have and your preferences. For each ingredient category, chose among the ingredients that follow it to add up to the total volume. For example, for spice you could use a ¼ teaspoon of chili flakes and ¼ teaspoon chopped jalapenos; for shellfish you could use 3 pounds of crab plus 2 pounds clams and 1 pound shrimp. Serve with lemon wedges and sourdough bread.

  • ¼ cup fat (olive oil, butter)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon spice (cayenne, chili flakes, chopped jalapeño pepper, black pepper, saffron threads soaked in warm water)
  • 3 cups diced or minced aromatics (onion, leek, fennel, celery, green bell pepper)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and whole or minced
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish), or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, fennel fronds)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28-ounce can tomato product (whole canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce)
  • 4 to 6 cups broth (clam juice diluted with water, fish stock)
  • ½ to 1 cup wine (dry white wine, red wine)
  • Salt
  • 6 to 7 pounds shellfish (cooked, cleaned, and cracked crab; clams; mussels; bay scallops; peeled or unpeeled large shrimp; calamari, bodies sliced)
  • 1 pound white fish (California sea bass, black cod, true cod, halibut), skinned and chopped into 1-inch chunks
  1. In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stock pot, heat the fat with the spice briefly, then add the aromatics, garlic and herbs. Saute over medium-low heat, stirring often, until softened, about 12 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste, and stir to dissolve. Add the tomato product and toss to coat in the aromatics. Simmer 3-5 minutes if using tomato sauce, or 15-20 minutes for other products, until the tomatoes lose their raw flavor.
  3. Add the broth and wine; bring to a simmer, then cook 15-20 minutes. If using whole or diced tomatoes, puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt. (The recipe can be made to this point — the base — 1 day ahead and refrigerated.)
  4. Return the cioppino base to a strong simmer, then add the shellfish and white fish in this order: clams (cooking time: 10-12 minutes total); crab (8 minutes total); mussels, shrimp, calamari, white fish (all 3-5 minutes total). Each time you add a new type of seafood, stir to submerge the seafood in the sauce, return the sauce to a lively simmer and then cover the pot.
  5. Season with salt and spice, if needed, and garnish with the reserved fresh herbs. Serve hot with the lemon wedges and sourdough bread.

Mixed Citrus with Red Onions and Escarole Salad 

  • 1/2 Red onion
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 orange
  • 2 mandarin oranges
  • 1 oz blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Fresh ground sea salt and pepper
  • 4 cups torn escarole leaves
  • 1⁄4 cup minced fresh chervil
  1. Cut the onion half into paper thin slices then cut each lice in half set aside.
  2. Cut a slice off the top and bottom of the grapefruit then stand it up right. Following the contour of the fruit, slice off the peel and white pith in thick strips. Holding the fruit over a bowl, cut along each side of the membranes between the sections letting each section and any juices drop in to the bowl. Cut each section in half crosswise. Repeat with the orange and the mandarins then set aside.
  3. Put the cheese in the bottom of a large bowl and add the olive oil. Using a fork mash that cheese into the olive oil until well blended. Stir in vinegar, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper. Add the escarole leaves and gently mix to coat evenly.  Add all the citrus and there juices the red onion and the Chervil and gently mix to coat evenly.
  4. Makes about 6 servings.

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