Category: Broths and Soups

Michele Carbone

Zuppa di Pesce, Seafood Stew (or Cioppino)

I was in San Francisco at a famous Italian restaurant many years ago and saw a menu item called Cioppino. I had never heard of it. Out of curiosity I ordered it. It was a variation of a classic Southern Italian fish soup in a tomato base, but they had put too much tomato!

You can use just about any combination of seafood you would like, but the essential ingredients are the squid, mussels, and shrimp. Fisherman recommend using small fish, but these are full of bones. So, the recipe I use has no bones, nobody chokes, and it is delicious.

This recipe is best when prepared a day before you wish to serve it because the flavors blend together over time. So I suggest you make it in abundance since it will be good for a couple of days.


  • ½ bunch fresh, flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 chopped onion, red
  • Hot small Calabria or Hawaiian or Thai peppers (1 or more)
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 box of Pomi chopped tomatoes and fish broth (see below) or water.
  • 1.2 pounds of squid (tubes and legs; slice the tubes into ½ inch segments)
  • Two large shrimp per person, shells on, but with the backs sliced
  • 1 and ½ pounds of fresh mussels
  • ¾ pound fish steak, such as swordfish, Marlin, tuna, Ono, or any fish that has a firm texture and is cut at least 1 inch thick. Cut in cubes of about 1 inch.
  • ½ pound of sea scallops
  • 2-4 soft shell crabs (if in season) or whatever fish you like (except octopus)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups fish broth (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to make this recipe

  • In a large heavy-bottomed pan with a cover, gently sauté the cloves of crushed garlic in about 3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Remove the garlic cloves as soon as they take on color. 
  • Add the squid to the skillet together with the chopped parsley, hot pepper, and chopped red onion. Cook for 2 minutes, mixing often.  


  • Add the rest of the seafood to the pan and cook for 2 more minutes, mixing often.
  • Add 1 cup of dry white wine. Cover the pan for 1 minute.
  • Remove the cover and allow the wine to evaporate for about 30 seconds.


  • Add 1 full box of Pomi chopped tomatoes, along with an equal amount + half (i.e, fill in the box of pomi with water, and next time fill it to half) of water, or better, fish broth that you should always have in your freezer. Also add the rosemary.
  • Gently stir all the ingredients together.  Cover the pan and allow the ingredients to come to a light boil.
  • Immediately turn the heat to low or medium depending on the power of your stove, keeping the cover on. Cook for another 10 minutes. Be sure it does not boil during this time or the fish will become hard and dry.  
  • After 10 min, turn off the fire and move the pot to a cool burner, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and let sit for at least 20 minutes.

Buon appetito!

  • Suggested Wine Pairing.  Arneis, Gavi, Greco di Tufo, no more than 2 years old, cold.  Some people recommend red wine with a fish soup. Taste is taste! If you like a red wine, try a good Ciro` Chianti, or Barbera, or Pinot Noir, but stay away from Merlot and Cabernet!

How to Make Fish Stock: Use only fish from the sea, not from rivers and lakes.  You can use anything you like. For example, you can use 1 pound of sardines and/or fish heads (say salmon, grouper, Mahi Mahi, shirimp, or the “skin” of the shrimp. Always use some, say 10 or so mussels or clams, etc. and their spines. Do not use small fish. Then, you do not have to deal with their small bones that will choke some guests not used to eating fish).

In a pot (really big),  add the fish; it should occupy about 1/3 to ¼ of the pot.  Add 1-2 glasses white wine –depending on how big your pot is, 1 red onion cut in 4, 4 cloves of garlic crushed, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 sprig of rosemary, 1 celery cut in pieces, water up to 2 inches to the top, black peppercorns, and salt. Let it boil lightly for 2-3 hours or three, until the water is about half then what you started with. Drain the broth, set aside until it reaches room temperature, and then freeze. When you need it, you will defrost it.


Zuppa di Pesce



  • Soffriggere in olio (quanto basta da coprire il fondo della padella per circa 3-4 mm, aglio.  Togliere appena prende colore
  • Aggiungere prezzemolo tritato, 1 pugno, 1 o piu` pepperoncini piccanti, 1/3 di cipolla rossa tritata, e le seppie, tubi tagliati a rondelle tentacoli interi.  Soffriggere (fuoco forte) 2 min
  • Aggiunger il resto del pesce.  Girare spesso, soffriggere 2 min.
  • Aggiungere 1 cup di vino bianco secco, coprire 1 min, scoperchiare e fare evaporare 30 secondi.
  • Aggiungere 1 box di Pomi “crushed” o “meglio” stessa quantita` di conserva di pomodori fatti in casa, e un una quantita` e mezza di acqua, o meglio di brodo di pesce fatto in casa e un rametto di rosmarino. (riempire il box di pomi d’acqua e poi riempirlo a meta e versare sul pesce)
  • Mischiare coprire e fare cuocere per dieci minuti a fuoco basso o medio-dipende dalla cucina- l’importante e`che non bollas enno` rovinate tutto.
  • Spegnere il fuoco, aggiungere sale e pepe e muovete la padella su un fornello freddo e lasiate riposare 20 min o piu`. (meglio farla il giorno prima ha piu` sapore).


Buon appetito!


Vino: Un buon bianco givane e freddo, Arneis, Gavi, Greco di Tufo,, etc.  Per chi preferisce il rosso: Barbera, Ciro`, Chianti,Etna rosso, Pinot Nero vanno benissimo. Meglio evitare cabernet e merlot.


Brodo di pesce:

Potete usare tutti i pesci che volete, meglio grossi cosi` non hanno spine e naturalmente pesci di mare e non di lago o fiume che sono troppo delicati.  Per esempio, sardine, teste di pesce tipo cernia, dentice, salmone ecc, gamberi o I loro gusci e sempre qualche cozza.  Procedure come segue.
In una pentola grande, la piu` grande che avete, e se non avete una pentola veramente grande e` ora di comprarla!, mettete abbastanza pesce da occupare circa 1/3 o 1/4 del volume della pentola, poi 1-2 bicchieri di vino bianco secco –dipende da quanto e` grande la pentola! 1 cipolla rossa tagliata in 4, 1 sedano a pezzi, 1 rametto di rosmarino, un mazzo di prezzemolo, 3-4 spicchi d’aglio schiacciati, pepe nero in grani.  Riempire d’acqua fino a 3-4 cm dall’orlo, salare.  Bollire 2-3 ore, finche` il liquido si e` ridotto a circa la meta`. Filtrare e surgelare.  Dovreste sempre avere in freezer surgelati brodi di: pesce, vegetale, pollo e carne.  Cosi` quando vi servono sono li che vi aspettano.

Michele Carbone pappa al pomodoro

Pappa al Pomodoro (for 6)

This evening, I made the “pappa al pomodoro”, a simple, wonderful Italian soup that my mother used to make.  It’s made with stale bread, tomatoes, basil and vegetable broth. It was great! 

For some reason, in the U.S., I have never seen this delicious meal in any Italian restaurant. Actually, unless I go to Florence, I cannot even find it in Italy because it’s a Tuscan soup.

The soup is very easy to make, and I substitute Pomì tomatoes for the fresh tomatoes that are traditionally used. Kids love this hearty soup, and adults like it even more! It takes 30 minutes to make, and the amounts suggested in this recipe easily feed 6. If you double up the ingredients, in 30 minutes, you feed 12 or more.


  • 1 loaf of old bread (2-3 days old) – use a Ciabatta or similar loaf bread, cut into thin slices
  • 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch of fresh Italian basil, leaves chopped (save a few un-chopped leaves for garnish when you serve the soup)
  • 2 boxes of Pomì chopped tomatoes
  • 2 liters of vegetable broth, preferably homemade broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to make this recipe

  1. Heat the vegetable broth to a boil, then cover and allow to simmer until step 4.
  2. Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large saucepan that has a lid.  When it is hot, add the garlic cloves and allow them to become golden in color.  
  3. Reduce the heat and remove the garlic from the skillet as soon as it becomes golden (do not wait until the garlic gets brown).
  4. Add the Pomì chopped tomatoes and most of the bunch of chopped basil leaves (save some leaves to garnish the finished soup) and cook on medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetable broth that you have previously brought to a boil.
  6. Add the sliced bread to the pot and mix well.  Cook on low-to-medium heat for another 15 minutes, adding black pepper and salt to taste.
  7. Turn off the heat and use a potato masher to make sure that the bread is broken up into the soup mixture. The bread should give the soup a thick texture, but there should not be any lumps in the soup.  Cover the soup until you serve it.
  8. DO NOT add any cheese. If you like you can add ½ tablespoon of olive oil to each bowl, and gently swirl the olive oil into the soup.
  9. Garnish with a leaf or two of fresh basil.
  10. Buon appetito!

Suggested Wine Pairing

A simple Rosso di Montalcino or a Chianti pairs very well with this hearty soup.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

I like to use homemade broths for all of my soups and risotto recipes. My wife, Betti, makes the broth in our household, and she always keeps fresh or frozen broth in the kitchen. Here’s her recipe for a simple vegetable broth.


  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 leafs of kale (optional)
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • Salt
  • A teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 2 liters of water

How to make this recipe

  1. Coarsely chop all of the vegetables except the cherry tomatoes and the parsley.
  2. Fill a pot with 2 to 3 liters of water. Make sure you have a heavy lid for the pot.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables, salt and peppercorns, and the ½ bunch of Italian parsley to the pot.
  4. Bring to a boil.  Allow to boil vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes, then partially cover the pot with its lid and bring to a simmer.
  5. Allow the ingredients to simmer for about 2 – 3 hours, making sure that it stays close to a boil, but doesn’t actually boil anymore
  6. After cooking for 2 – 3 hours, add the cherry tomatoes and bring to a boil once again for a few minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow to cool.  Use a colander or a strainer to separate the vegetables and peppercorns from the broth.

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