Tastefood: Ring in the new year with bowls |  Lifestyles

Tastefood: Ring in the new year with bowls | Lifestyles

It’s time to dump her and move on. When we leave the holidays, we officially enter the toast-food season. Rich and heavy holiday dinners – with cocktails and several dishes, ribs and roasts, sauces and cuts – will take a New Year’s timeout, replaced by steaming bowls filled with hot and nutritious soups and stews. And while meat is certainly welcome to join in the toast, the lightness of seafood is a refreshing alternative. It’s time for a cioppino.

Cioppino is a seafood stew from San Francisco that originated in the 19th century when Italian and Portuguese fishermen chopped leftovers from their daily catches to make a robust tomato-based soup. Its name is derived from the Italian term ciuppin, which means to chop. Wine is a key ingredient in the cioppino foundation, and recipes call for wild white or red, depending on the source. I prefer to use red wine, which adds more fruit and less acid to the broth.

As for seafood, there is no set rule except to choose as fresh as possible. Choose from a variety of seafood and shellfish, such as mussels, clams, shrimp and scallops, and thick soup with chunks of carnivorous white fish, such as halibut. While many cioppinos include crabs, which are local and abundant in the San Francisco Bay area during the winter season, they can be easily omitted. If you have access to crabs, buy the cracked bones or just buy the cleaned meat for a splurge.

Unlike many stews that taste better over time, this stew is meant to be eaten right away to capture the freshness of the fish. This rule was observed with my casserole dish as I did not have time to style a beautiful image before it was consumed, leaving me with only the process image you see here.

Cioppino

Active time: 50 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 medium-sized fennel onion, halved lengthwise, cut into thin slices

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup tomato puree

1 (28-ounce) can of crushed Italian plum tomatoes

2 cups medium-bodied red wine

2 dl chicken stock

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)

12 to 18 smallneck mussels

12 to 18 mussels, scrubbed and bearded

1 pound (18/20) shrimp, peeled, weaned, intact tails optional

1 pound solid white fish, such as halibut, cut into 1-inch chunks

Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and fennel and cook until vegetables are soft, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato puree and cook for approx. 1 minute more while stirring to create a slurry. Add tomatoes, wine, chicken stock, orange juice, bay leaf, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt or sugar if desired.

Add mussels to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the mussels, cover the pan and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels or clams.

Stir in the prawns and halibut, partially cover the pan and simmer until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Pour the pan into warm serving bowls and garnish with parsley. Serve with wholemeal bread or garlic bread.

This recipe is from Lynda Balslev, cookbook author, food and travel writer and recipe developer. She can be found at TasteFoodBlog.com

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