Zuppa di Pesce

This is the basic zuppa that is always made in our house. It can be made in a large batch, a small batch . . . it's great reheated . . . you can leave out or add any fish you wish. The key is that it's a tomato base, and it's chock full of all your favourite things.
  • 2 - 3 pounds of fish trimmings, shells, etc (For this, I usually reserve all the heads, tails, shells etc of the other fish we're cooking.)
  • enough water to cover them in a large pot (Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.)
  • 2 28oz cans plum tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 lbs fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 lbs fresh mussels
  • 2 lbs fresh clams
  • 1 lb scallops
  • 2 lbs squid, cleaned and the tubes cut into rings
  • 3 lbs mixed fish fillets such as cod, monkfish, red snapper, etc
  • 2 lbs crab legs cut into 2 or 3 inch pieces
  • 2 lbs scampi
  • 3 tbsp each fresh chopped parsley, basil, oregano and marjoram
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Drain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stock pot. Add the tomatoes, breaking them. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes, till broken down. Slowly add the reserved liquid. Cook for 5 minutes more. Add the wine, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 10 minutes more. Add about 2 cups of the fish stock and bring to a gentle boil.

Add salt, pepper and herbs and allow to simmer 5 minutes, then start adding the fish. Start with the clams and mussels, then once they start opening add the crab, scampi, and fillets. Let these cook for about 5 minutes more then the squid and scallops follow. The final addition is the shrimp.. I usually make sure that all the other fish are ready, add the shrimp and immediately turn off the heat. There will be enough residual heat in the pot to cook the shrimp through till just tender without over cooking.

Throughout the process of cooking and adding the different fish, you will need to keep adding fish stock. The final consistency should be fairly soupy. If you find you run out of stock, try adding tomato juice, clamato juice or just plain water. Just before serving, taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve with lots of fresh crusty bread for soaking up the juices.

  • Yields: enough for the masses
  • Preparation Time: 1 1/2 - 2 hours
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