Cioppino with Roasted Garlic Parsley Butter Toast
Cioppino is a soul warming comfort food like no other. I honestly don’t know whether to call it a soup or a stew but no matter what you call it you absolutely must, must have a yummy toast to dip into the broth to soak up all those flavors. I love this roasted garlic parsley butter toast with a little hint of Parmesan on it. It’s delicious on its own but really adds a layer of flavor to the Cioppino, too. You can serve the toast on the side or cut it up and serve it as little croutons on top. I used day old rustic bread because it was a good way to use up a half a loaf I had sitting around anyway.
Did you know that Cioppino originated in San Francisco? Of course it makes sense when you think that San Fran is exactly where you can get the best fresh seafood which is really what this soup is all about. If you don’t live in San Francisco or if you just can’t find King Crab or one of the other seafood items I used in my recipe then just substitute with something you can find that is fresh and hopefully wild caught near you. Halibut is a popular fish to find in Cioppino as well and has a nice mild flavor.
The base of the soup is tomatoes and white wine and seafood broth. I used a good quality Italian canned tomato and then pureed it in my blender for a really smooth consistency. Then, to add more flavor I use a good pinch of red pepper flakes, leeks, shallots, garlic, and fennel bulb. The combination is delicious and the red pepper flakes give it just a little heat. Add more or less to your taste. The real key is I let the broth and veggies hang out and reduce at a low simmer for about 35-40 minutes BEFORE adding in any seafood. When I tasted the broth at 5 minutes in it was okay but not great. But after the full length of time on the stove top the flavors really came together and it was delicious! Then when you add the mussels and clams you get some of the brininess from the shells and that adds even more flavor. To me this was the perfect balance. But you don’t want to over cook your seafood so don’t add them until you are ready to eat.
Finally, the last piece to this foodie puzzle is the Garlic Parsley Butter Toast. This can be made ahead of time and just added to the toast and broiled when ready to serve. You want to start with a whole head of garlic and cut just the top 1/4 inch off with a sharp knife. Wrap that baby up in foil and drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and put it in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. Maybe a little more or a little less. You want to get that caramelized brown squishy thing going. So you can squeeze it right into your butter and make a paste. Just make sure your butter is softened at room temperature (not melted). The rest is a cinch. Combine the softened butter, roasted garlic, Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley in a bowl and combine with spatula. Add in a little pinch of salt but not too much. Set aside until ready to spread on the toasted bread and then throw it under the broiler for a minute or two until browned and bubbly on top. Then stand back and try not to eat it while you are waiting on that shellfish to open up:)
Great Cioppino starts with top quality ingredients
Start off making the roasted garlic butter first because it takes the longest and can be made ahead. Preheat the oven to 400. Cut off the top 1/4 inch of the garlic and drizzle with the olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and roast for about an hour – give or take. Make sure to leave the butter out at room temp to soften.
While the garlic is cooling make the crostini or toast. Start by reducing the oven temp to 325. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for approximately 12 minutes until the edges are browned but the bread still has some give. Remove and set aside.
Mix the room temperature butter, roasted garlic, Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, and a little salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to serve dish.
Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter in a large pot. When melted add in the leeks, shallots, and fennel bulb and a good pinch of the red pepper flakes with some salt and pepper.
And don’t forget the white wine….
Then the tomato paste and the bay leaf…
Then the tomato puree….
Add the seafood stock….
Let mixture simmer for 35-40 minutes
Now back to the toast. Spread the roasted garlic butter on the toasted bread and put it back under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until bubbly warm. Do this step ideally right as you are adding the seafood to the Cioppino broth so that both parts of the dish are ready at the same time.
Now add that shellfish and shrimp into the Cioppino base (but not the crab leg). Cover and cook until the mussels and clams open and the shrimp is just cooked through. Will only take a few minutes. Uncover and divide equally amongst the dishes. Add the King Crab leg pieces directly to each bowl and top with fennel fronds. Serve with garlic toast on the side or as croutons.
- Roasted Garlic Parsley Butter Toast
- 1 head garlic
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 6-8 slices rustic Italian bread
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- 28 oz. can tomato puree or crushed tomatoes and then put in a blender to puree
- 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and diced
- 3/4 cup shallot, diced
- 1 medium fennel bulb, chopped and fronds reserved for garnish
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3/4 lb clams, scrubbed
- 3/4 lb mussels, scrubbed
- 1/2 lb uncooked shrimp, shelled and de-veined
- 2 King crab legs, meat removed and left in big chunks
- Preheat oven to 400. Cut the top 1/4 inch off the garlic head and place in foil. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Crimp foil around the garlic and roast for approximately 1 hour. Remove and set aside to cool.
- Reduce oven to 325. Place the sliced bread on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 12 minutes and set aside to cool.
- Combine the room temperature butter, Parmesan, chopped parsley, pinch of salt, and then squeeze the roasted garlic into the mixture. Mix well and set aside.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat and add in the olive oil and the Tablespoon unsalted butter. When hot and melted add the leeks, fennel bulb, shallot, and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the white wine and then the tomato paste, Bay leaf and seafood stock and tomato puree. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes.
- Spread the roasted garlic mixture on the toasted bread (crostini). Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until bubbly and brown.
- Add the mussels, clams and shrimp to the Cioppino base. Cover and cook until the shellfish opens (happens in minutes). Discard any shellfish that didn't open.
- Divide Cioppino amongst the bowls and add the chunks of King Crab to each bowl. Top with fennel fronds and serve with Roasted Garlic Parsley Butter Toast.