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Carole Kotkin

A robust colorful soup-stew from San Francisco called cioppino is a great excuse to gather friends for Sunday supper. Italian and Portuguese fisherman who fished along the California coast about 100 years ago adapted traditional fish stew recipes to create distinctive cioppino (pronounced cho-PEEN-oh). It was made with leftovers from the day's catch--whatever made it's way into the net wound up in the soup pot. Today's cioppino is made from whatever fish and seafood looks good at the seafood counter.

There is some debate on the origins of the name. John Mariani in the Dictionary of American Food and Drink credits its name to an Italian word for fish stew, "cioppin". Others say the word means "chopped fine" in Italian. I like the legend detailed in Craig Claiborne's New York Times Food Encyclopedia.

In the days prior to World War I, it seems locals made the rounds of small boats moored in the bay and coaxed the fisherman to toss into their buckets, without charge, a fish, a crab, and so on. They shouted "chip in! chip in!. To make the dish sound more Italian, an "o" was added to the cry, thus "cioppino".

There is nothing in cioppino that restricts it to the Pacific coast. In fact, South Florida cooks make their own version with seafood available here. What makes cioppino unique is the spicy Mediterranean-style mixture of tomatoes, basil and oregano with plenty of red wine and garlic. The sauce for the stew can be made ahead of time but the fish and seafood should be added just before you are ready to serve. Cioppino is a meal-in-itself and besides sour dough bread and a hearty red wine, not much else is needed to round out the meal except perhaps a green salad as an opener and a warm caramel apple dessert for dessert. Be sure to set out extra bowls for the empty shells, and lots and lots of napkins.

Featured Recipes:

> Cioppino

> Bobbi Litt's Chopped Salad

> Caramelized Apples

By Carole Kotkin, co-author of MMMMiami--Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere

You can buy the book from our affiliate, Barnes and Noble, online!

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