literary food blog, for readers with good taste.

Inspired Recipe: Cioppino

Inspired Recipe: Cioppino


I cracked open Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter while on vacation and read it from a point overlooking the jagged Maine coastline and azure Atlantic Ocean. Both this setting and the opening pages made me immediately want to make cioppino. Then, 43 pages in, the characters eat ciuppin, a soup of rockfish, tomatoes, white wine, and olive oil. My recipe was sealed.

Read our recommendation of Beautiful Ruins.

A bite of cioppino can whisk you to both Italy and California, the novel’s two main settings. The fish stew is rough-hewn and adaptable, innately casual but with flavors that taste like you spent all day melding them together. You will not have to, though — you can easily make this dish in less than an hour, with enough time between steps to sip a glass of wine.




  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 28 oz canned plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb mussels (cleaned)
  • 1/2 lb medium shrimp (deveined)
  • 1 lb cod or other whitefish (cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 lb fish stock
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crushed red pepper (omit if you don't like spice)
  • basil


Heat oil in a large pot.

Add onions and cook until soft and transparent.

Add garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper and cook one minute.

Add tomatoes and juice and cook 5 minutes, stirring and breaking up tomatoes occasionally.

Add wine and fish stock. Bring to boil.

Lower heat until broth is simmering. Add mussels, shrimp, and fish until mussels open, shrimp turn pink, and fish is cooked.

Ladle into bowls, tear basil over soup, and serve with crusty bread.

Note: For your cioppino, you can use any assortment of fish and shellfish — clams, scallops, lobster, etc. — you’d like.

Now that you’re good and hungry, read our recommendation of the book that inspired this recipe: Beautiful Ruins.

Eat Your Words: Fiction and Devein

Eat Your Words: Fiction and Devein

Book Recommendation: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Book Recommendation: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter