Use best and freshest ingredients when possible. If in doubt about a spice, use a fraction of the amount specified - you can always add more to taste.
6 T extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 small leek, white part only, chopped
1 small stalk of celery, chopped
1/4 smallfresh fennel bulb, chopped (about 2 T), or use 1/2 t anice
28 oz can crushed italian tomatoes with liquid (or chop whole, peeled tomatoes, preserving liquid)
2 T tomato paste
2 cups fresh water
1 T salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
1 t fresh basil, chopped fine (or about 1/3 t dried)
1/2 t fresh oregano, chopped fine (or about 1/4 t dried)
1/4 t fresh thyme, chopped fine (or a pinch of dried)
4 bay leaves
1/4 dried hot pepper (peperonocino), or more to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb white fish (halibut, boston scrod, red snapper), skinned, boned, cut in bite sized pieces
12 lg shrimp, shelled and deveined
8 lg scallops, cleaned
3/4 cup dry white wine
12 sm clams in shell, scrubbed or 6 oz canned clams
6 oz cooked crab meat, or 6 oz can
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
(optional) thick slices toasted italian or french bread, put in bottom of soup bowls before adding cioppino
Chopping and slicing, skillet, large covered pot or saucepan.
HEAT 3 T of the olive oil in a large heavy pan with cover over medium heat. Add onions and saute until transparent, about a minute. Do not brown. Add the chopped carrot, diced green pepper, chopped leek, chopped celery and chopped fennel and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes (with their liquid), tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaves and cayenne pepper.
SIMMER over low heat until reduced, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. (Sauce can be covered and kept warm over low heat for several hours longer. Stir occasionally.) Remove bay leaves.
HEAT 3 T olive oil in a skillet (with a cover for the next step) over high heat. Add garlic and cook 5 seconds. Immediately add fish, shrimp and scallops. Saute until just cooked through, 2-4 minutes. Add seafood to sauce and stir gently.
POUR wine into skillet and cook 30 seconds over medium heat, stirring up any loose bits. Add clams to skillet. Cover and cook until clams open, 2-6 minutes. Transfer clams as they open to sauce. Discard any that do not open. Gently stir crab meat into sauce.
TASTE for seasoning.
COVER and heat cioppino on medium heat until all seafood is hot, about 2-3 minutes.
LADLE into warmed serving bowl or directly into warmed soup plates. Garnish with chopped parsley.
(optional) thick slices toasted italian or french bread, put in bottom of soup bowls before adding cioppino. Serve with fresh Italian or French bread, in any event.