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Lauro’s Cioppino

Posted on November 22 2021

Lauro’s Cioppino

The key to a good cioppino is creating the right base. Lauro recommends using a bottom-feeding fish like sculpin or rockfish to create a rich and flavorful stock. He likes to say that once you have the proper “juice” you can add just about anything you want. Some options that aren’t included in this recipe would be squid, prawns, zucchini, or eggplant. This recipe yields plenty of soup and freezes well. 

Ready in 2 hours Makes 4-6 servings 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, sliced 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (1-2 pound) whole rockfish or sculpin, gilled and gutted
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2 liters room temperature filtered water 
  • 1 pound small new potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes 
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 (28.2-ounce) can crushed or chunked tomatoes 
  • 2 whole California spiny lobsters
  • 2 pounds mussels 
  • 2 pounds clams 
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish

STEP 1  Heat the olive oil and butter together over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft and fragrant. This should take about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and cook for another minute or two; making sure not to burn it. 

STEP 2 Take the cleaned fish and set it in the pot with the bay leaves and water. Bring just to a boil before reducing to a low simmer. Cook the fish stock on low for 20-25 minutes. Once the fish is cooked through (the flesh will be opaque and the meat falling off the bone), carefully remove the liquid using a spider or slotted spoon. Allow fish to cool slightly before removing flesh from the bones. Reserve flesh and discard the bones and head. 

STEP 3 Add the prepped veggies and canned or jarred tomatoes to the broth. Stir to combine. Bring the liquid just to a bare boil before reducing heat back down to a simmer. Simmer soup until the vegetables are soft, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. This should take about 30-45 minutes. 

STEP 4 While the vegetables and broth are simmering, prepare the spiny lobsters. Tail the lobsters using our simple method. Remove the guts from lobsters and gently rinse the heads under the sink. Use a large knife to cut the whole lobster portions into roughly 2-inch chunks -- including the heads. 

STEP 5 Add the lobster chunks to the soup about 25 minutes before serving. Add the mussels and clams 10 minutes before serving. Return the flaked rockfish or sculpin flesh to the pot. Continue to cook just until the clams and mussels are open. Discard any shellfish that does not open. Finish soup with chopped parsley and serve with a fresh baguette or garlic-scratched bread from our steamed mussel and clam recipe.