CACCIUCCO (four main-course servings)

Meaning “mixture” in Italian, this fisherman’s soup is said to be from Livorno, the second-largest city in Tuscany (This is open to debate. Cooks in Viareggio will tell you that nothing good ever came from Livorno, and certainly not cacciucco.)  Variations of this stew have been made for hundreds of years along the Tuscan coast.  Traditionally, at least five types of fish and shellfish are included, one for each “c” in the name.  Tuscans also say that a good cacciucco should include one stone from the ocean, perhaps because the fishermen who created the dish added whatever came up with their nets.  Tuscans would probably place a slice of toasted bread, brushed with olive oil and rubbed with garlic, in each bowl before ladling the soup over.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

½ cup chopped celery

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 pound plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

¾ cup dry white wine

6 cups water

one 8-ounce orange roughy fillet, cut into 2 inch pieces

one 8-ounce sea bass fillet, cut into 2 inch pieces

8 ounces uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 ounces cleaned squid, bodies cut into ½ inch wide rings, tentacles left whole

a dozen small littleneck clams

additional chopped parsley

sea salt

extra-virgin olive oil


1.  Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, celery and garlic.  Saute 10 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, ¼ cup parsley, rosemary and crushed red pepper and sauté 2 minutes.  Sprinkle flour over and stir 2 minutes.  Add wine and cook until liquid evaporates.  Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

2.  If you are using clams, add them to the boiling soup base and cover the pot.  Check after three minutes and remove any fully opened clams to a bowl with tongs.  Keep checking at 1 minute intervals until all the clams have opened and been removed.  If any clams have not opened after six minutes, remove and discard them. 

3.  Add all other seafood to soup base.  Cook until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes.  Return clams to stew and season with salt.

4.  Ladle soup into 4 bowls.  Sprinkle with additional parsley and sea salt.  Drizzle soup with olive oil.

NOTE:  If you want to toast bread to put in the bottom of the soup bowls, preheat the oven to 400*, cut 1 inch thick diagonal slices from a loaf of Italian bread, rub the bread with a cut garlic clove and brush it lightly with olive oil.  Place the bread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake it for 6 to 8 minutes, until it is well browned.

from Bon Appetit Magazine, May, 2000

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