We The Italians | Italian cuisine: Discovering Cacciucco: The Nonno of San Francisco’s Famous Fish Stew

Italian cuisine: Discovering Cacciucco: The Nonno of San Francisco’s Famous Fish Stew

Italian cuisine: Discovering Cacciucco: The Nonno of San Francisco’s Famous Fish Stew

  • WTI Magazine #172 Feb 17, 2024
  • 848

This recipe from my Italian Diabetes Cookbook is said to be the ancestor of San Francisco’s famous Cioppino stew. My version comes from the western Tuscan town of Livorno, located on the sparkling Tuscan Sea. During the Gold Rush Era and later in the 19th century, many Italians immigrated to California. Some of them replicated Italian fishing boats in the wharf of San Francisco and made fishing their occupation.

Over the years the Cioppino recipe became popular with local housewives and promoting it helped the fishermen to sell more seafood. When making fish soup for themselves, local fishermen would traditionally use the fish and scraps left behind after the more desirable portions of their catch had sold.

This recipe is a testament to many of the Italian American dishes that were inspired directly by Italian immigrants and their livelihoods in the United States. Use your favorite seafood combination to come up with the version of this dish you like best.

Tuscan Seafood Stew (Cacciucco alla livornese)

Serves: 8. Serving Size: Approximately 1 cup. Prep Time: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 1 hour

1/4 cup Amy Riolo Selections extra virgin olive oil, or other good quality olive oil

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes

5 cloves garlic, minced

12 ounces calamari, cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces

12 ounces baby octopus, cleaned, and cut into 1-inch pieces, if desired

1 tablespoon unsalted tomato paste

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, juice reserved

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup Homemade Seafood Stock  or water

1 (1-pound) monkfish fillet, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 (1-pound) mullet or other white fish fillet, cut into 2-inch pieces

12 ounces large shell-on shrimp

12 ounces mussels, scrubbed and debearded

Heat oil in a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add parsley, sage, chile flakes, and minced garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add calamari and octopus and cook, stirring occasionally, until seafood is opaque, about 4 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir well, and cook until paste has darkened slightly, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.

Add tomatoes along with their juice, season with pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until seafood is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in stock, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add monkfish and cook, covered, until fish is just firm, about 5 minutes. Add mullet and shrimp to the pot, and scatter mussels over top. Cook, covered, without stirring (so as not to break up the seafood), until the mullet is just cooked through and the mussels have just opened, about 10 minutes.

Ladle stew into bowls and serve.

While variations of this soup abound, the common denominators to an authentic cacciucco are octopus, squid, tomatoes, wine, garlic, sage, and dried red chilies. Other types of fish can be added. In Italy, the soup must be served over toasted or grilled garlic-rubbed bread.

Wine: Montecarlo Bianco


Choices/Exchanges 1/2 Starch, 6 1/2 Lean Protein

Calories 350 | Calories from Fat 110

Total Fat 12g | Saturated Fat 2.3g | Trans Fat 0.0g

Cholesterol 240mg

Sodium 340mg

Potassium 1110mg

Total Carbohydrate 8g | Dietary Fiber 1g | Sugars 2g

Protein 47g

Phosphorus 610mg