Cioppino is a fancy name for fish stew. I love it but have actually not made it before. And you rarely see it on menus. Trader Joe's has a frozen version but it is a very tiny amount in that package and you have to add a bunch more things to get it enough for two for dinner.
A few months ago I bought a frozen package of "mixed seafood" from TJ's....scallops, shrimp, calamari. No clue what I was going to do with it. Last night I finally decided to try and make cioppino, since the seafood blend was perfect for it, along with a chunk of white fish that I had in my freezer.
All the recipes I had seen for this dish included fennel. Fennel is reminiscent of licorice and I dislike it very much, although admit it tastes good in the cioppino I have eaten in the past. But....
I looked over several "fish stew" recipes and realized that they were all actually very basic. So I went to my kitchen and chopped some onions and garlic and started sauteeing. I added some celery (hey, it looks kinda like fennel), then diced up some carrots and potatoes. This IS a stew after all. Tossed in some seasonings that struck my fancy: oregano, italian seasoning, coriander, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, chopped fresh cilantro. Added a large can of tomatoes, some water, and some clam broth I had frozen that was leftover from a TJ's frozen bag of steamed clams we had awhile back, covered it and went to get on the computer.
An hour later I chunked up some cod into the stew, covered it again and left for awhile. Just before we were ready to eat, I put about half the package of frozen mixed seafood into the pot. As it simmered, I tasted it and it was a bit flat. I had not had a green pepper. So I shook in some hot sauce, squeezed some lime, then a dollop of balsamic vinegar and, finally, some white wine sitting on the counter.
To serve it, I dipped out a couple of cups into each bowl. Then for the final 'ta da', I chopped up a small tomatillo and some more cilantro and sprinkled the mixture on top of the soup serving. Yum.
Here is photo of cioppino (not mine). Follow this link to the source of the photo for another take on cioppino that uses a jar of red pasta sauce. Might try that sometime; it would be a richer broth for sure.