Weeknight Shrimp Cioppino-ish Stew


Cioppino has always been one of my favorite dishes. I love a good tomato broth, tons of seafood, and some crusty bread to soak up any leftover broth. This Weeknight Shrimp Cioppino-ish Stew is may way of enjoying the essence of a Cioppino, but on any night. While I have a cioppino recipe on my blog that I personally love, I’ll usually only make it on special occasions. It doesn’t necessarily take too long or have too many steps, but between buying the seafood and the broth needing 30 minutes to simmer, it’s not a weeknight meal.

Enter my shortcut recipe: Weeknight Shrimp Cioppino-ish Stew. It’s a slightly abbreviated ingredient list, shortened simmer time, and using just shrimp allows this to truly be a weeknight meal. I’ve also added in a secret ingredient to give the base a bit of creaminess and body.

The other key part about why I made this Cioppino Stew: not being able to find fish or seafood stock ANYWHERE! Over 70% of the time when I wanted to make my original cioppino, I couldn’t find this key ingredient. So I decided to make a recipe that didn’t need it.

Behind the Recipe: Weeknight Shrimp Cioppino-ish Stew

  • Coconut Milk: While coconut milk seems like a slightly odd add when using white wine and definitely isn’t traditional in a Cioppino Stew, it works here. Due to a quick simmer time, this broth needs some body and the coconut milk does the trick. P.S. If you really don’t like the idea of coconut milk here, just use heavy cream- although I’d half the amount of cream).
  • Fennel, Shallots, & Garlic: Key aromatics to building flavor, especially quickly. While most traditional recipes wouldn’t call for as deep of a browning/caramelization as this one does, I think it helps intensify the flavor.
  • White Wine: I’ll be honest, I hate having to open up a bottle of white wine just for this, especially when it’s only two tablespoons. But it’s really hard to get the same acidity and I really don’t like to substitute this one. Drink the rest of the bottle with dinner for no waste 🙂
  • Shrimp and Other Seafood: See below for this one. While I use shrimp to make this really a Weeknight Shrimp Cioppino-ish Stew, you can easily use this same recipe and add in other seafood options to fancy it up.

Seafood Cooking Guide: Pros, Cons, & How to Cook Different Seafood Options

  • First off, let’s talk about amounts. The general rule of thumb I use is just over 1/2 a pound for two servings (10 ounces or .6 ounces) in this Tomato Seafood Stew. I’ve found that 1/4 pound is just a little on the small side and since this is usually the star of the show and is served alone, just a bit more is the perfect amount. If I want a large restaurant style-portion, I may do 3/4 pound.
Your Guide to Cooking Seafood:
  • Shrimp:
    • Prep: You can buy a variety of sizes- the numbers (like 16/20) refer to how many are in the pound. Generally, the bigger the shrimp, the more expensive it is. I find the 16/20 to be the most economical and my general go-to, both for this Cioppino Stew, but also most recipes.
    • Price: See above for prep- the price can vary, but usually around $11.
    • Cooking Time: This will vary on size, but for a medium shrimp (16/20), this is about 4-5 minutes.
  • White Fish (Cod, Halibut):
    • Prep: Cut the filet into large-ish pieces of about 1.5” long before adding in.
    • Price: Greatly varies depending on the fish, anywhere from $9-$24.
    • Cooking Time: The 1.5” pieces will cook in about 3-4 minutes.
  • Scallops:
    • Prep: Remove the side “foot” on the scallop- this is a small piece that isn’t really a part of the body.
    • Price: On the pricier end, often around $20/pound.
    • Cooking Time: Varies slightly depending on size, but a medium scallop takes about 4-5 minutes.
Your Guide to Cooking Shellfish:
  • Lobster Tails:
    • Prep: Using a kitchen scissors, cut vertically down the shell to cut the shell in half. Keep the shell on, but this will make it plenty accessible when eating.
    • Price: Definitely on the pricier side. Last time I bought it was about $5/tail (which turned out to be about $30/pound).
    • Cooking Time: 1 minute/ounce is the rule of thumb. Most tails will be around 4-5 ounces, so 4-5 minutes total of cooking time.
  • Mussels and Clams:
    • Prep: Buy the same day you are cooking. Make sure to wash thoroughly before placing in the broth.
    • Price: Not too pricey. I believe I got about 10 for about $4. Most of the time I’ve found that you can only get them in large quantities, so I usually don’t get them.
    • Cooking Time: 8-10 minutes in strongly simmering water. If cooking these, these go in first before everything else for 5 minutes.

How to Make this Leftover-Friendly: Yes, it’s possible.

Some tips if making this Weeknight Shrimp Cioppino-ish Stew and want to enjoy it over a few days or if you have leftovers: the soup itself holds really well, while the shrimp not so much. When having this for leftovers, I”ll keep the broth and then heat it up in a small saucepan on the stove and then add in fresh raw shrimp directly into the hot soup- it will cook within about 5ish minutes or so. 

Make this a Full Meal: What to Serve this With

  • Stay traditional: Serving this cioppino stew in a traditional style by adding a toasted baguette. Maybe serve with a side salad of arugula or roasted green beans.
  • Switch it up entirely: Make this more of a stew and take out the cup of water (see seen in second and third photo below). Served with white rice and a sauteed veggie like zucchini or broccoli. This has a different feel, but equally delicious.
4.60 from 5 votes

Weeknight Shrimp Cioppino-ish Stew

Servings 2 servings
Total Time 30 mins
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, (enough to generously coat bottom of pan plus a tablespoon or two for the baguette)
  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced + 1 few sprigs of fennel for garnish
  • 1 large shallot, diced (about 1/3 cup diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed (+ 1 garlic clove for baguette if you want)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt , (or to taste)
  • 2 tb dry white wine
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 ounce coconut milk
  • just a bit over 1/2 pound )(.6 pounds, 10 ounces) medium shrimp, cleaned and deveined *see above for more details on other seafood to cook. also if cooking for "hungry" people, i'll up this amount to about 2/3 pound.
  • 1/2 baguette, sliced

Toasted Baguette:

  • Preheat oven to broiler setting. Place sliced baguette on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle and rub olive oil onto each slice. You can also add in an extra garlic clove and rub it on each piece if you want!
  • When adding in the shrimp for the stew (the last step), add the bread and place in the broiler until golden brown, about 2 minutes. **This time can really vary depending on the oven and the height of the rack. Place rack about 6'' away from broiler and check frequently, as it can burn somewhat quickly.

Make the Stew:

  • Place a medium saucepot (about 4 quart) over low to medium heat.
  • Once hot, add extra virgin olive oil, fennel, and shallots. Saute over low to medium heat until beginning to brown, stirring ocassionally, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in garlic and continue to saute an additional minute or two, until garlic is also brown. Season with salt.
  • Add in tomato paste and continue to saute another minute or two, until the tomato paste has turned a dark red.
  • Add in white wine. Increase heat to medium and stir until liquid has mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  • Add in diced tomatoes (including the juices), water, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add in shrimp and continue to cook until shrimp are opaque and fully cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Serve immediately.
4.60 from 5 votes
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