Weeknight Cioppino Soup Recipe – Simple Steps To A Tasty Dish

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Embark on a coastal culinary adventure with our Seafront Symphony Cioppino Soup, a lavish medley of succulent seafood simmered in a rich, tomato-based broth. Each spoonful is a dive into the depths of flavor, with layers of garlic, herbs, and a splash of wine adding complexity and zest. The mussels, clams, and fish offer a treasure trove of textures, ensuring a luxurious dining experience. Garnished with fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon, this soup is a celebration of the ocean’s bounty, ready to transport your palate to seaside bliss.

As a child, I eagerly anticipated those breezy San Francisco afternoons when my Nonna, fresh off the docks, arms laden with the sea’s bounties, would start her labor of love – our family’s treasured Cioppino soup recipe

Weeknight Cioppino Soup Recipe - Simple Steps To A Tasty Dish

The mere memory of that hearty, aromatic concoction wafts in the air, brimming with succulent Seafood, tomatoes, and her secret blend of herbs, never fails to make my heart flutter with longing and my mouth water in anticipation.

I’ve since carried the baton, bringing this comforting, complex, and coastal classic to kitchens worldwide. Whether it’s the biting chill of winter or a cool summer evening, this soup, steeped in love and legacy, is your solace, a warming embrace. 

Join me as we navigate this culinary journey together, resurrecting my Nonna’s magic, one bowl of Cioppino soup at a time. Your senses will thank you, I promise. So, tie on your aprons, and honor the sea, the traditions, and the timeless flavors that unify us all.

What Is Cioppino Soup?

Cioppino is a hearty seafood stew that originated in San Francisco, California. Its roots can be traced back to Italian immigrant fishermen who, after a day’s catch, would contribute to a communal pot with whatever they could spare – thus creating a rich and varied seafood medley.

The hallmark of Cioppino is its robust tomato and wine-based broth, which carries an aromatic fusion of garlic, onions, and a distinct medley of herbs. But the true stars are, of course, the seafood components. 

A traditional Cioppino brims with a mix of the day’s freshest catch, including shrimp, clams, mussels, crabs, and fish. Some versions also feature scallops or squid.

Served with a side of crusty bread to sop up the flavorful broth, Cioppino is a comforting, filling, and delectable dish that celebrates the bounties of the sea and reflects the rich cultural heritage of the San Francisco Bay area.

What Is Cioppino Soup?

Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients?

Absolutely, you can vary the Cioppino Soup recipe to fit different dietary needs. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keto Cioppino soup is already fairly keto-friendly, given its high protein and low carb content from Seafood. To make it fully keto, you could reduce the onions and tomatoes, which contain natural sugars, and increase the amount of Seafood and broth.
  • Paleo This recipe is Paleo-friendly, given that it consists of whole foods and avoids grains, legumes, and dairy. However, make sure to use a wine that fits into your interpretation of the Paleo guidelines, or you could replace the wine with additional broth.
  • Gluten-Free This recipe is naturally gluten-free. Just be sure to serve it with gluten-free bread if desired, or forego the bread entirely.
  • Whole30 For a Whole30-compliant recipe, you would need to skip the wine and replace it with additional chicken stock or broth. Also, ensure that your chicken broth, clam juice, and canned tomatoes are all Whole30 compliant, meaning they don’t contain added sugars or non-compliant additives.
Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients?

Recipe Directions

  1. Sauté fennel, onion, and salt in oil until onion is translucent.
  2. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and continue sautéing.
  3. Combine tomato paste, canned tomato, wine, chicken stock, clam juice, and bay leaf in the pot.
  4. Bring the soup to a low boil, then simmer covered for 30 minutes to blend flavors.
  5. When ready to serve, add clams and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Add mussels, shrimp, and fish to the pot, and simmer until cooked.
  7. Discard any unopened clams or mussels.
  8. Season the soup with salt and red pepper flakes to taste.
  9. Serve the hot soup with a mix of seafood in each bowl.
  10. Enjoy your delicious San Francisco Cioppino Soup!
Recipe Directions

Variations, Add-Ons And Toppings

Variations and Add-Ons

  • Seafood: You can vary the types of seafood based on what’s fresh and available. Think scallops, squid, or lobster. Even a good quality white fish or salmon could work.
  • Vegetables: Some recipes add other vegetables such as bell peppers or celery to the base.
  • Spices: You could experiment with spices and herbs. Try adding a bit of saffron, smoked paprika, or fresh herbs like thyme and basil for a twist.
  • Broth: Some variations use a mix of chicken and fish stock for a deeper seafood flavor.


  • Fresh Herbs: Freshly chopped parsley or fennel fronds add a burst of fresh flavor and a touch of color.
  • Lemon: Serving with lemon wedges on the side lets people add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten up the flavors.
  • Grated Parmesan: A light dusting of parmesan cheese can add a savory depth.
  • Crusty Bread: Traditionally, Cioppino is served with a side of crusty sourdough bread for dipping into the rich broth. For a variation, try garlic bread or a slice of toasted baguette rubbed with garlic.
  • Aioli: A garlicky aioli spread on toasted bread makes a delicious accompaniment.
Variations, Add-Ons And Toppings

Can I Make Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

  • Slow Cooker

Sauté the vegetables (fennel and onion) in a pan as usual, then add them to the slow cooker. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, wine, chicken stock, clam juice, and bay leaf. 

Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours. This slow cooking will help develop the flavors of the broth. Add the Seafood during the last 30 minutes of cooking to avoid overcooking. Check seasoning, then serve.

  • Instant Pot

Using the sauté function, follow the same initial steps as the original recipe (sautéing the vegetables, adding garlic and red pepper flakes, tomato paste, etc.). Then add the tomatoes, wine, chicken stock, clam juice, and bay leaf. 

Lock the lid in place and set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 10 minutes. When the cooking time is done, quickly release the pressure. 

Open the pot and add the Seafood, then close the pot and let the seafood cook in the hot broth for about 5-10 minutes until done. Check seasoning, then serve.

Can I Make Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

Can I Use Store Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?

You can certainly use store-bought broth for your Cioppino Soup, and many people do it for convenience. When choosing a store-bought broth, look for low-sodium options to control the saltiness of your soup better. Also, opt for high-quality or organic brands, as they tend to have more flavor and fewer additives.

If you have the time, homemade broth can elevate your soup to the next level. Homemade broth allows you to control the flavor profile, and it typically has a richer, more nuanced flavor than most store-bought versions. 

This can be particularly true for a seafood-based soup like Cioppino, where a homemade seafood broth could add a lot of depth of flavor.

Can I Use Store Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?

How To Serve?

  • Dish Selection: Choose a deep bowl or a wide, shallow bowl to serve Cioppino. This allows guests to enjoy both the broth and the seafood in every bite.
  • Garnish: Garnish each bowl with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley or a fennel frond for an added touch of color and flavor.
  • Bread: Cioppino is traditionally served with a side of crusty bread for dipping in the rich broth. If you prefer a gluten-free option, choose a sturdy gluten-free bread.
  • Cutlery: Given the nature of the seafood in the soup, providing both a spoon and a small fork can be helpful. A small bowl for discarded shells would also be a thoughtful addition.
  • Pairing: If you’re serving wine with the meal, a crisp, dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio pairs well with Cioppino.
  • Serving: Serve the soup hot. The various flavors are best appreciated when the soup is served at a warm temperature.
How To Serve?

Perfect Side Dishes

  • Crusty Bread: This is a traditional accompaniment, perfect for soaking up the flavorful broth. You can even toast it with a bit of garlic and olive oil for extra flavor.
  • Green Salad: A light, fresh salad can balance the richness of the soup. Try a simple mixed greens salad with a lemon vinaigrette to complement the seafood.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Simple roasted vegetables like asparagus or Brussels sprouts would make a great side, offering a different texture to contrast the soup.
  • Cauliflower Rice: If you’re looking for a lower-carb side, cauliflower rice can be a great choice. It’s versatile and can be seasoned to complement the flavors of the Cioppino.
  • White or Wild Rice: A small serving of steamed white or wild rice can also work well, as it will absorb the soup’s flavorful broth.
  • Grilled Polenta: Grilled or baked polenta can be a delicious and slightly more substantial side dish that would complement the Cioppino’s flavors nicely.
Perfect Side Dishes

Storage And Make Ahead

Here are some simple tips for storage and make aheads:

  • Cooling Process: Allow cioppino to cool to room temperature quickly to maintain the safety and quality of the seafood. Place the pot in a sink filled with ice water, stirring occasionally.
  • Refrigeration: Once cooled, transfer the cioppino to airtight containers and refrigerate. It’s best consumed within 2-3 days due to the delicate nature of seafood.
  • Freezing: Freezing cioppino is not recommended. Seafood, especially shellfish, can become rubbery and lose its texture when thawed.
  • Reheating: Reheat gently on the stove over low to medium heat, just until the seafood is heated through. Avoid boiling to prevent the seafood from becoming tough.

Make-Ahead Tips:

  • Prepare the Broth: The tomato and wine broth can be made in advance. Cook the base with the aromatics, tomatoes, wine, and herbs, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a month.
  • Add Seafood Later: To preserve the texture and quality of the seafood, add it to the reheated broth only when you’re ready to serve the cioppino. Seafood cooks relatively quickly and should be added in stages based on cooking time — shellfish first, then firmer fish, and delicate fish last.
  • Marinate Seafood: If you want to enhance the flavor, marinate the seafood in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, and herbs for a few hours in the refrigerator before cooking.
  • Assemble Before Serving: Reheat the prepared broth until simmering, then add the marinated seafood. This ensures the seafood is perfectly cooked and tender.
  • Garnishes: Prepare garnishes like chopped fresh parsley or crusty bread for serving. Add these fresh when serving to maintain their texture and flavor.
Storage And Make Ahead

What Can We Do With Leftovers? 

Leftover Cioppino Soup can be quite versatile and delicious if handled correctly. Here are a few ideas:

  • Reheat for Another Meal: Leftover Cioppino can be reheated gently on the stovetop and served as is for another meal.
  • Repurpose the Seafood: You could also remove the Seafood from the broth and use it in another dish like seafood pasta, stir-fry, or salad.
  • Make a Seafood Sandwich: Chop up the Seafood, mix with some mayo, a little celery, and seasoning, then serve on fresh bread for a delightful seafood salad sandwich.
  • Create a Seafood Pasta Sauce: Remove the Seafood and use the flavorful broth as a base for a seafood pasta sauce. Reduce the broth a bit, add some cream if desired, toss with pasta, and top with the leftover Seafood.
  • Create a New Soup: Use the leftover broth as a base for a new soup. Add fresh vegetables, noodles, or rice for a new twist.


  • Use Fresh Seafood: The key to an exceptional Cioppino is using the freshest seafood you can find. A variety of shellfish and fish, such as clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and firm-fleshed fish, will provide the best flavor and texture.
  • Sauté Aromatics Thoroughly: Begin by sautéing onions, garlic, bell peppers, and celery until they are soft and fragrant. This creates a flavorful base for the broth.
  • Deglaze with Wine: After the aromatics are sautéed, deglaze the pot with a good-quality dry white wine. This adds depth to the flavor of the broth.
  • Rich Tomato Base: Use canned crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce for a rich, smooth base. Adding a bit of tomato paste can also enhance the depth of flavor.
  • Herbs and Spices: Incorporate fresh herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme for an aromatic broth. A pinch of red pepper flakes can add a pleasant heat.
  • Layer Seafood Cooking Times: Add the seafood in stages based on their cooking times—start with the ones that take the longest to cook, like clams and mussels, and end with delicate fish and shrimp.
  • Simmer Gently: Once the seafood is added, simmer the stew gently to avoid overcooking. The seafood is done when clams and mussels have opened, and the fish is opaque and flaky.
Weeknight Cioppino Soup Recipe - Simple Steps To A Tasty Dish

Weeknight Cioppino Soup Recipe – Simple Steps To A Tasty Dish

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Immerse yourself in the rich flavors of the sea with our Cioppino Soup, a hearty and delicious recipe that hails from San Francisco’s Italian-American community. 


  • 3 3 Olive Oil

  • 1 1 Large Fennel Bulb, Trimmed And Thinly Sliced

  • 1 1 Large Onion, Chopped

  • Kosher Salt (A Pinch)

  • 4 4 Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped

  • 1/2 Tsp 1/2 Dried Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

  • 2 Tbsp 2 Tomato Paste 1 Large Squirt (More Or Less)

  • 26 Oz 26 Canned Chopped Tomatoes (Or Fresh Chopped Tomatoes With Juice)

  • 1-1/2 Cups 1-1/2 Dry White Wine

  • Cups Weeknight Cioppino Soup Recipe – Simple Steps To A Tasty Dish

  • 2 8 Oz Bottles 2 8 Clam Juice

  • 1 1 Bay Leaf

  • 1 Lb 1 Littleneck Clams, Scrubbed

  • 1 Lb 1 Mussels, Scrubbed And Debearded

  • 1-1/2 Lb 1-1/2 Raw “Large” Shrimp (26-30 size), Peeled And Deveined

  • 1/2 Lb 1/2 Cod Loin or Scrod Or Halibut, Cut Into 2-Inch Chunks

  • 1 Lb 1 Salmon (Skinless Filet), Cut Into 2-Inch Chunks

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Sauté The Vegetables
    Heat the oil in a large (8-quart or larger) non reactive (stainless steel or enameled cast iron) stockpot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, and salt. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add Garlic And Red Pepper Flakes
    Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and continue to sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Combine Remaining Ingredients For Broth
    Stir in the tomato paste, canned tomato with the juices, wine, chicken stock, clam juice, and bay leaf.
  • Bring To A Boil
    Cover the pot and raise the heat just until the soup comes to a low boil.
  • Simmer The Broth
    Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and let the broth simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes. The soup can be made ahead up to this point; refrigerate or freeze if not serving immediately.
  • Cook The Clams
    When you’re ready to serve the soup, if it’s been chilled, return it to a simmer over medium heat. Add the clams, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add Remaining Seafood
    Add the mussels, shrimp, and fish to the pot. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams and mussels are open, about 5 minutes. Remember to discard any clams or mussels that do not open.
  • Season And Serve
    Finally, season the soup to taste with additional salt and red pepper flakes if needed. Serve hot, ensuring each bowl gets a mix of the different Seafood. Enjoy your homemade San Francisco Cioppino Soup!
  • Large Stockpot
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Mandoline (Optional)
  • Stirring Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Airtight Containers Or Heavy-Duty Freezer Bags
  • Microwave-Safe Dish (For Reheating)


  • Cioppino Soup is a seafood stew with roots in San Francisco, created by Italian-American fishermen.
  • The dish is highly versatile and can incorporate a variety of Seafood like clams, mussels, shrimp, cod, and salmon, amongst others.
  • Fennel, onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes create a flavorful base for the soup, with tomatoes and white wine adding depth and acidity.
  • By making appropriate substitutions, you can adapt the soup to different dietary needs, like gluten-free, Keto, or Paleo.
  • The soup can be made beforehand, and the base can be frozen for future use. However, Seafood should ideally be added and cooked just before serving to avoid overcooking.
  • You can garnish the soup with fresh herbs like parsley and serve with a slice of crusty bread on the side.
  • Cioppino Soup is rich in nutrients, offering high-quality proteins and a range of vitamins and minerals.
  • To avoid overcooking, reheating should be done carefully, especially when Seafood is involved. Leftover Seafood can also be repurposed into other dishes.
  • Essential kitchen tools include a large stockpot, knife, cutting board, stirring spoon, ladle, and storage containers. A mandoline can be useful for thinly sliced fennel.
  • While the soup is delicious and nutrient-dense, considerations should be made for the cost of Seafood, preparation time, shelf life, and potential dietary restrictions or allergies.

Nutrition Table

Nutrition Table

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You've entered a realm where each bowl isn't just a meal; it's an expedition to the core of comfort, well-being, and the sheer delight of feeding both body and soul. My name is Julia, and I'm here to navigate you through the flavorful worlds of Soup Chick. Together, we'll uncover the artistry behind each recipe, share stories that warm the heart, and celebrate the simple pleasures of making and enjoying soup.

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