I have a hidden talent that you may not know about me.

If a football game is on TV, I can actually APPEAR to be looking at the screen, but can be THINKING about something totally different in my head; completely detached from what is happening in the game. Some  refer to this as the “football glaze over effect”, but I like to think of it as a gift; “productive thought management”, a little like meditation, where I get to plan and organize my thoughts. I use this time for things like figuring out what my menus for upcoming cooking classes will be, where I want to go on vacation next, and contemplating whether I should join a CSA or just continue to shop the farmer’s market and pick out what I like.

Occasionally, my husband will shout ” Oh my god, did you see that hit?!”

At this point, I snap out of it briefly to reply “~No~”

“But you were looking right at the TV” (my husband will say).

Like I said, it’s a gift.

Though I may not be a football fan, I am all about camaraderie. Whether its sitting on the couch with my husband while he cheers on his Broncos, or with a room full of super bowl party friends, I will be there, and I will help you eat the game day  food!

When we lived in San Francisco, we would get together with friends and make a big pot of Cioppino for super bowl Sunday. This Italian seafood soup gets its amazing flavor by adding the freshest seafood you can find. I am using a combination of halibut, clams, mussels, and crab in this recipe, but remember, you have a lot of flexibility with this tomato based soup. The origin of this dish is taking the “catch of the day” and adding it to your simmering broth. So if grouper is fresh that day, go for it. If you want to add squid, great.

Cioppino is gratifying any day of the week, but especially enjoyable on super bowl Sunday. There are so many chips, dips, and other temptations, it’s kind of nice to finish with a bowl of soup, brimming with seafood. You have to save room for dessert, right? Check out these cute cupcake ideas from Jeanne Benedict !

So how about you…are you ready for some football?

What will you be eating?


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 onion, chopped

3 large shallots, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice

2 cups red wine

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup clam juice

1 bay leaf

1 pound lump crab meat

1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded

1 pound clams, scrubbed clean, grit removed

1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/2 pounds firm-fleshed fish such as halibut or grouper, cut into 2-inch pieces

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, chicken broth, clam juice, and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

Add the  mussels and clams to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the  mussels and clams  begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, crab,  and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any  mussels that do not open).

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

6-8 servings


20 thoughts on “Cioppino”

  1. I was trying to plan a menu for the Superbowl – I’m going to serve this.

    I’m in Az but my best friend is a Katrina survivor – I think this will be enjoyed.

    Looks delicious…………

    I’m not a football fan but I see what the Saints are doing bringing people together and I will support them.

  2. Hi Debi:

    Well ,thank you so much for your Twitter comment about my Saucy Momofuku post. That caused me to discover your web site.

    Wow! I am so impressed. Everything about it is fantastic. I cannot wait for your Friends at the Table book to be released.

    Thank you for the Cioppino recipe ( among all the others…). The Cioppino takes me back to San Francisco as well.

    Looking forward to staying in touch. I will be adding your website to my SAUCY LIST of favorite sites on my blog.

    All the best
    SAUCY ( lobstersandwich)

  3. I have no idea how I missed this one. You are truly gifted and very talented as your website, recipes and pictures are all outstanding. Loved reading about how table talk came about and your family. Amazing what you have accomplished and they must be so proud to have a mom like you! Awesome webpage. thanks for this awesome recipe!
    .-= pegasuslegend´s last blog ..Steak Omelet with Marsala, Mushrooms and Provolone =-.

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