So, most of you know that one of my favorite things IN THE WORLD to do is to go out to dinner. With kids, without kids, it really doesn’t matter. I know that it may not always be the healthiest or most economic option, but there just really isn’t anything like trying out a fun, new restaurant or heading back to an old staple. I love the buzz of the other restaurant patrons, the ability to try new dishes, the fun of discovering a local favorite… I could go on and on.
I am always an advocate for going out as opposed to staying in. It’s hard for some to comprehend, but we all have our things, right? And I am so glad that my husband and I have this personality trait in common — and that we’re trying really hard to keep up with it despite having two kiddos.
But, back to those two kiddos — well, I get that it’s just not possible to go out all the time — and surprisingly, I’m okay with it. I’ve gradually fallen into a new routine (a mom routine) and learned to also appreciate all the good things about staying in and relaxing.
But staying in presents us with two options – either ordering take-out or actually cooking a meal – and unfortunately for my family, I am not the best cook. I can bake (sort of), but cooking real edible food is just my area of expertise.
However, I happened to have married a REALLY good cook. My husband has always been into trying new dishes, taking on new culinary challenges (beyond grilling), and even though I might not get to try the next best restaurant in town one night, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I am going to have a great dinner.
So, I was perfectly okay with spending our Saturday night in when my husband proposed Cioppino (seafood stew) for dinner. If you’re a seafood lover, this is for you, my friends! It’s the perfect combination of all the best seafood and vegetables (and even a little wine) to create rich, hearty stew. I honestly can’t think of a better dish for a chilly November evening.
Garlic, fennel, shallots, celery and onion might not create the most vibrant combination, but for a mixture that looks pretty boring, the flavors combined are unreal — and create the perfect flavored broth.
Add some tomatoes, fish stock and white wine — and you’re ready for best part, the seafood, of course! We used scallops, mussels, clams and shrimp, but I love that you can add whatever you want to this dish. I’ve had some pretty amazing versions of this with a flaky white fish as well.
Finally, as we all know, no meal is complete without bread so we sliced up a french loaf, brushed each piece with olive oil and added some freshly chopped rosemary, garlic powder and salt. A few minutes in the oven and you have your own crostini — which will perfectly soak up that delicious broth.
And before you ask, no – my kids did not eat this. If they did, I would be naming it my biggest accomplishment thus far in life. However, we’re just not there yet. So, we did what any good parents would do when they make a meal that there’s no chance of their kids touching – stuck some chicken nuggets and fries in the oven and called it a night 🙂
Yield: 3-4 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 large shallots, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 1/2 cups fish stock
- 1 small bunch of fresh thyme
- 12 little neck clams, scrubbed
- 1 pound black mussels, scrubbed, debearded
- 1/2 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 8 large scallops
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 stalks thinly sliced celery
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper (seasoning)
- Thinly sliced french bread, brushed with olive oil, fresh chopped rosemary, garlic powder and salt, then baked at 350° for 10 min
- Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat.
- Saute the fennel, onion, shallots, celery and salt about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste.
- Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and fresh thyme.
- Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.
- Add the clams, mussels & butter to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and scallops for two minutes. Flip both shrimp and scallops over (and mix all ingredients).
- Simmer gently until the scallops and shrimp are cooked through.
- Season the soup with salt and red pepper flakes.
- Serve soup with toasted crostini and enjoy.
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.