Cioppino with Olive Gremolata

Cioppino with Olive Gremolata is a satisfying seafood stew filled with any combination of seafood and fish that you desire and has a rich tomato flavor.  It is hearty and satisfying and one recipe will feed 8 hungry people!  This cioppino is topped with an olive gremolata to add color, texture and lovely flavors of orange, garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes.  Hard to beat this combination!

This seafood stew is traditionally an Italian soup that uses whatever fish is fresh that day.  Its heartiness would feed large families.  Feel free to use whatever seafood and fish you enjoy.

I like to start this recipe by making the Olive Gremolata.  In a food processor, combine parsley, orange zest, olives, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes.  Pulse it a few times and then add the olive oil. Process until a chunky texture is achieved.  Let the gremolata sit while you are making the cioppino so that the flavors can meld.

To make the cioppino, steam the mussels and clams together until the shells open.  This takes from 5 to 8 minutes.  Move all of the clams and mussels to a bowl.  Save 2 cups of the steaming liquid.

In a large stockpot, add chopped onion and fennel to heated olive oil and sauté until translucent.  Add garlic, roasted red peppers, oregano and thyme.  Sauté until very fragrant and any liquid has evaporated.  Now add white wine and scrap up and bits that are stuck to the bottom of the stockpot.

Add crushed whole tomatoes, seafood stock and reserved steaming liquid.  Allow this to simmer for about 20 minutes and then add more salt if necessary.

Add your white fish and shrimp to the pot and cover it.  Cook for a few minutes until the fish is opaque and the shrimp are curled and pink.

Remove the pot from the heat and add back the mussels and clams. 

Serve the cioppino is separate bowls with a big spoonful of gremolata on top.  Grilled sourdough bread goes nicely on the side for mopping the delicious broth up!

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Cioppino with Olive Gremolata

Makes: 6-8 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour & 10 minutes


For The Olive Gremolata (Optional):

  • 1/2 bunch parsley, about 2 ounces, roughly chopped
  • Zest from one orange
  • 1/2 cup mixed olives, pitted
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

For the Cioppino:

  • 1 pound clams, scrubbed well
  • 1 pound mussels, debearded and scrubbed well
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into ½-inch dice (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut into ½-inch dice (about 2 cups)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 & 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
  • 1 & 1/4 cup seafood stock
  • 1 pound skinless firm white fish, such as halibut or cod, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Grilled sourdough bread for serving, optional


Make the Olive Gremolata:

Place chopped parsley, orange zest, olives, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes (if using) in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scrape down the sides of the food processor and add olive oil. Process until a uniformly chunky texture is achieved.

Allow gremolata to sit at room temperature while you prepare the cioppino to allow the flavors to fully meld.

Make the Cioppino:

Prepare a stockpot with a steamer basket insert large enough to hold the clams and mussels. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in the stockpot, reduce heat to a simmer and steam mussels and clams under a lid until they just open, 5-8 minutes. Remove pot from heat and place all opened mussels and clams in a large bowl. Discard any mussels or clams that don’t open. Reserve the steaming liquid, about 2 cups.

In a large dutch oven or 8-quart stockpot, heat olive oil over medium until the surface just begins to shimmer. Add chopped onion, fennel and a hearty pinch of salt and sauté until onion is softened and translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add minced garlic, roasted red peppers, dried oregano and dried thyme. Sauté until garlic is very fragrant and most of the liquid from the vegetables has evaporated.

When the red pepper mixture begins to look dry and sticky, add white wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any vegetable bits clinging to the bottom of the pot. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Crush whole tomatoes roughly in your hands and add them to the white wine mixture along with any collected juices in the can, seafood stock and reserved steaming liquid. Allow mixture to simmer for 20 minutes uncovered. Taste and add salt as needed.

Add whitefish and shrimp to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and shrimp are curled and pink.

Remove pot from heat and stir in mussels and clams. Taste and add salt as needed. Serve immediately, topped with a big spoonful of the olive gremolata.

Recipe from The Mediterranean Dish


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