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Zuppa di Pesce (Fish Soup) 

Zuppa di pesce was the practical invention of Italian fishermen. In the days before refrigeration, they devised an ingenious way of recycling the unsold bits from their daily catch: tossing them all into a pot along with water, herbs, and—in southern Italy—ripe, juicy tomatoes. The resulting soup is more of a stew, variations of which abound throughout the Italian peninsula, from Venice to Abruzzo. In terms of seafood, anything goes: any firm-fleshed fish combined with shellfish works. The key ingredient to zuppa di pesce is improvisation. Recipe Servings: Serves 4–6

Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Total Time
45 minutes
Gluten Free
Dairy Free


  • 1 lb (453 g) squid, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch (1.25-cm) rings
  • 1 lb (453 g) shrimp, in their shells
  • 1 lb (453 g) small hard-shell clams and/or mussels, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and scrubbed
  • 1 1/2 lb (675 g) assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as cod, red snapper, monkfish, turbot or sea bass, cut into chunks
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped or pureed
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
  • 2 cups (480 ml) water
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup (240 ml) dry white wine
  • salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices coarse country bread, toasted and rubbed on one side with garlic


  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for around 4–5 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of parsley. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  
  2. Increase heat to high and add pepper flakes and white wine. Simmer for 2 minutes before reducing heat to medium. Add tomatoes and cook, uncovered, for around 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add water and bring broth to a simmer. Add squid and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in sliced fish and clams. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to low. Gently simmer, uncovered, for another 10 minutes.
  5. Remove unopened clams and ladle soup into four bowls. Top with toast and sprinkle with remaining chopped parsley and freshly ground pepper before serving.