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Cioppino (by request)


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When I was visiting my friends in San Francisco over the winter they made me cioppino a couple of times. When I got home, I tried to replicate it. I knew the key flavor thing was the fennel+tomato combination. There are many recipes for it on the internet, all are a little different. This is my version. You can go as upscale or as not-upscale as you want with the seafood here. I've had it with all manner of tasty things, like black cod, or mussels and clams in their shells. I make this soup frequently so I generally stick to the cheap seafood blend from Trader Joe's.

Thaw your seafood before you start.

1/4 c. ghee

additional olive oil as needed

One onion

2 leeks

2 fennel bulbs

2 cans petite diced tomatoes (I use Cento San Marzano tomatoes for this because tomato is so dominant in the soup that you want good-tasting starting materials)

1 bottle clam juice (look out for additives)



2 tsp crushed garlic

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp gelatin (I use the Great Lakes brand -- this is optional)

1 package frozen sea clams (about a pound)

24 oz frozen seafood blend (I get one from TJs that has small shrimp, the small kind of scallops, and lots of squid)

1 small bunch italian parsley (flat leaf)

Dice your onion, leek, and fennel. Saute in the ghee until softened and transparent, but don't brown.

Add tomatoes, clam juice, gelatin and seasonings to the pot. Drain the juice of your frozen clams through a paper towel to remove grit, and add that, as well. Simmer over low heat for about an hour or until the vegetables are a consistency that you like. Add water if it seems to be cooking down too much. Add chopped italian parsley as you get close to adding the seafood.

Pick over your sea clams to make sure there are no bits of shell. Add clams and seafood mix to the hot pot, and just let it come back up to temperature, about 10 minutes. Don't overcook, you want your clams and squid cooked, but not rubbery. It reheats well for lunches and this recipe makes an enormous pot.

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Well, it's like bone broth without the flavor, I guess -- gelatin has a different balance of amino acids than muscle meat and it's supposed to be good for ya. I normally just use bone broths to make my soups. But in this soup, even a chicken broth really changes the taste. The Great Lakes brand of gelatin is sold on Amazon.com and it is from grassfed animals so I don't hesitate to use it. Sometimes I put some in my tea before bed, too.

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