I learned something new today. Originally I had thought that Cioppino was entirely Italian. But it seems that when looking up the origins for my daughter (she was looking for a recipe that might have been eaten during the Victorian era), I found that it actually came from Northern California.
It does fit the time period. And it is almost Italian. Cioppino was a fish soup created for Portugese and Italian immigrants around San Francisco. They used ingredients on hand in the crafting of the soup so almost any fish will work.
In the places I have worked I have only seen it done with mussels and other shell fish as well as a fillet from a scaled fish. The base has been a fish stock as well. One of the things I read recently called for a tomato stock or juice as the base, claiming historical accuracy in this. Seemed interesting enough to me that I wanted to try it.
Tomato juice (I used garden tomatoes I had frozen in the fall. I diced and then cooked them then strained the juice off) I added enough stock to this to come up with about a quart of liquid base
2 medium potatoes (medium dice)
1 medium onion (small dice)
1 rib celery (small dice)
1 medium carrot (you guessed it.. small dice)
2 clove garlic (I love the stuff)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (or use fresh stuff … its your soup)
Precook the potatoes to almost cooked through. You want them to have a little bite still.
In your soup pan, heat some oil. Add the mire poix with a some salt and the herbs. Allow them to set till the onion is translucent. Add the shrimp and cook till almost done. Add the stock and bring to a boil. At the boil add the potatoes and then the fish. Cover and turn down the heat to midlow. Allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or the fish is cooked through.
Serve this with some crusty bread. I would also like to add that considering this was a San Francisco item, you might consider drinking an Anchor Steam with it. California Common (or the trade marked Steam Beer) would have been popular at the time of this dishes creation and would go well with a tomato stock based soup.
Time for a pint…