White Zuppa Di Pesce – Fish Soup / Fish Sauce

Zuppa Di Pesce, which literally means “Fish Soup”, is a beautiful seafood dish popular in all Italian provinces that have coastlines. That’s almost all of Italy. The recipe is different in almost every region; in one place it’s a thick seafood sauce, in others it is a thin spicy soup. One excellent example of this dish can be found in Ada Boni’s Talisman Italian Cook book (1950). Her recipe contains Lobster, Cod, Anchovies, Halibut, Little Neck Clams, and Cayenne Pepper, and is known as “Fish Soup Roman Style”. On the contrary, my recipe contains none of these particular fish, nor any cayenne pepper.

The Zuppa Di Pesce I’m familiar with, and presenting here, is a mix of finned fish, shrimp & assorted mollusks. Using Filet of Sole, Mussels, Scallops and Cherrystone Clams, as well as Squid and Shrimp, we’ll make a succulent white wine & garlic based version that can be served over thin spaghetti (Capellini).

Clams, Mussels, Scallops, Shrimp and Filet of Sole
True Treasures of the Sea: Fresh Cherrystone Clams, Mussels, Bay Scallops, Massive Shrimp, Squid and Filet of Sole

For White Zuppa Di Pesce, you want to start with the following ingredient list:

  • ¾ lbs. Squid, cleaned and sliced into rings about ½ inches wide (keep the tentacles whole).
  • ¾ lbs. Filet of Sole
  • 1 lb. Jumbo Shrimp (whole, or cleaned & de-veined)
  • ¾ lbs. Bay Scallops (de-shelled/shucked)
  • 50 Mussels (live, in shell) – test each one by hand: if the mussel closes upon contact with cool water, it’s alive and edible… if the mussel does not close, discard it. Expect to lose a few mussels this way. The mussels will open back up upon cooking.
  • 35 Cherrystone Clams (live, in shell) – Unlike the mussels, these should be tightly closed when alive (but should then open upon cooking)
  • 2 Whole Heads of Fresh Garlic, peeled & sliced
  • 3 pounds of baby clams (de-shelled/shucked)
  • 2 Cups minced flat Italian parsley
  • 1 Cup of a Quality German Riesling White Wine
  • 120 ounces of Clam Broth
  • Olive Oil of High Quality

Cooking Instructions:

  1. In a tall lobster pot (at least 16 quarts), brown both heads of sliced garlic in enough olive oil to cover the garlic slices at the bottom of the pot.
  2. Add the Clam Broth, White Wine and Parsley – then slowly bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Once the broth mixture is boiling, quickly add all the seafood.
  4. Cook on high heat for 3 minutes only, then turn off heat (the seafood should continue to cook a little more from the heat of the broth). This short time window is sufficient enough to cook the fish, yet keep it from becoming tough or rubbery from overcooking.
  5. Serve over Al Dente Macaroni.

Serves  6 – 8 people, depending on appetite.

White Zuppa Di Pesce Over Angel Hair or Capellini Macaroni
White Zuppa Di Pesce Over Angel Hair or Capellini Macaroni

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