Savoury Mediterranean Fish Stew

Seafood soup (zuppa di Pesce) is a typical Italian dish, mainly made along the Italian coasts. Every region facing the sea has its own recipe. The recipe changes according to the type of fish fished in the area. One of the most popular recipes is called the Il Caciucco alla Livornese from the Tirreno sea (Tuscany). This recipe was introduced a few centuries ago by coastal fishermen. They discovered a way to use the unsold fishing catch. The tradition states that, to prepare a good Cacciucco, you should have at least 5 different types of fish (of for each letter c in Cacciucco).

Here is our version of the fish stew. We prepared it with the seafood we found at our trusted fishmonger in Copenhagen.

With this recipe, we brought a taste of Mediterranean food on our table, to feel the longing of a summer which is unfortunately almost gone.

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INGREDIENTS for 4 servings

About 2.5 kgs of fresh fish:
-mollusks (squid, baby cuttlefish, octopus or calamari), cut into bite-sized pieces
-firm-fleshed fish like monkfish, mullets or rhombus or redfish,  filleted and cut into large chunks, (set aside the heads and fishbones to prepare the fish broth)
-shrimps, cleaned (set aside the shells to prepare the fish broth)
-prawns
-clams and/or mussels

2 cloves of garlic
1 red chili pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil
1 can of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
2-3 fresh ripe tomatoes, diced
salt and pepper
a handful of parsley
half glass of white wine
1 carrot and 1 small onion, diced
8 slices of rustic Italian bread or Baguette

Rinse the mussels and clams many times under cold water. Pull off any beards and discard broken and/or open mussels and clams. Set the fish aside.

Use the shells, heads and fishbones you left aside to make a quick, light shellfish broth. Pour them in a large pot with 2 l of water and add the onion, the carrot, a handful of parsley, and the salt. Let simmer for  about 30 minutes. Then filter and set aside the broth.

In a large cooking pan, pour plenty of oil to cover the bottom. Add the garlic and let sauté for a few minutes. Then remove the garlic and add the mollusks and chili pepper. Pour the white wine and let it evaporate at medium heat. Put all types of tomatoes in the pan. Pour the previously made broth into the pan. Cover it with a lid, adjust the salt and let cook for around 20 min at low heat. Stir gently to prevent sticking.

In the meantime, toast the bread slices. For a tastier flavour rub the bread with garlic.

Add the firm-fleshed fish, the prawns and the shrimps to the pan. Let them cook for 5-6 minutes.

Add the mussels and clams, and cook until they are all open. Discard those which remain closed. Sprinkle some fresh parsley.

Serve the soup putting the 2 toasted bread slices on the plate or on a cup. Pour the Zuppa di Pesce on top.

Tips: Pair this Zuppa di Pesce with a fresh and medium – bodied white wine like Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Chardonnay.

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