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Canned tomatoes (Recipe: cioppino)


You like potato and I like potahto,
You like tomato and I like tomahto;
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!
Let's call the whole thing off!

Are you a member of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Rainy Sunday Afternoon Romantic Comedy Movie Club?

Okay, there is no such club, but if there were, I would be its president. And if you were a member, you'd surely recognize this classic song from Swing Time.

It's a love song, and it's not really about potatoes and tomatoes.

But if there were a love song about tomatoes, I'd be singing along.

Processed at the peak of flavor, canned tomatoes are always a better choice than poor-quality fresh tomatoes. My favorite canned tomatoes actually come in a box, which guarantees a fresh, clean taste.

The grocery store in my town stocks half a dozen brands of canned tomatoes, including some that are fire-roasted, organic, or seasoned with basil and garlic (don't buy those -- season yourself, depending on the dish you're cooking). I prefer to buy tomatoes without added salt, too, so I can season to my own taste.

Save the little leftover bits in a container in your freezer until you have enough to make sauce, or freeze in ice cube trays.



You can make the base for this classic San Francisco soup in advance, and freeze it. For a quick dinner, reheat the soup base, add any combination of shellfish and fish, and your cioppino (pronounced chah-PEEN-oh) will be ready in 10 minutes. I had a lot of fun making this with Kalyn in my Rhode Island kitchen. Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis' Everyday Italian. Serves 8.


3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced (a mandoline works well for this, if you have one)
1 onion, chopped
2 large shallots, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 large squirt of tomato paste from a tube (2 Tbsp, more or less)
1 26-oz box Pomi chopped tomatoes, or equivalent canned or fresh tomatoes with juice
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
2 8-oz bottles clam juice
1 bay leaf
1 lb littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 lb mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 lb raw "large" shrimp (26-30 size), peeled and deveined
1/2 lb halibut or mako shark, cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 lb cod (the thick loin) or scrod, cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 lb salmon (skinless fillet), cut into 2-inch chunks
2-3 Tbsp rough-chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


Heat the oil in a very large nonreactive stockpot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, canned tomato with the juices, wine, chicken stock, clam juice and bay leaf. Cover, and raise the heat just until the soup comes to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes. (Can be made ahead up to this point; refrigerate or freeze.)

Add the clams to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until the clams begin to open. Add the mussels, shrimp and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the mussels are open, about 5 minutes (discard any clams and mussels that do not open). Season the soup to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes. Top with parsley. Ladle the soup into bowls, and serve.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Braised fish, Tunisian style
Chicken stuffed with ricotta
One-one-one spaghetti sauce
Football season chili

Need more creative ideas for using tomatoes all year round? Get 25 Tomatoes, my e-book packed with fantastic recipes, full-color photos and a fun video tutorial. With the FREE Kindle Reading app, delicious tomato recipes will always be just one click away on any computer, tablet or smart phone. Click here to learn more.

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Oh, cioppino! We make the Tadich Grill recipe found in one of our magazines. Excellent!

ack, you've gone and put that song in my head.

That's it. Let's call the whole thing off!


Canned tomatoes are definitely a pantry staple for me too! I always have some on hand and I feel like there are just SO MANY uses for them!

I love cioppino! And always have canned tomatoes on hand.

We have cases of canned tomatoes in our pantry, they can't be beat. Boxed tomatoes? I feel like I've been living in a cave, I've never seen those. Maybe it is just because I wasn't looking! Your Cioppino looks lovely and heartwarming for this colder weather.

And I am here to testify that the Cioppino was fantastic! On the plane on the way home I suddenly had the thought "I should have eaten some of that before Lydia took me to the airport." Oh well, there is always another time.

Yay, the *real* San Francisco treat. Did you manage to have any while you were here?

Wow does that look tasty! Kalyn is so lucky she got to visit- and share cioppino- with you. I'm hoping we get to hear more about it- and see pics, too (hint hint).

Lydia, I love those Italian cartons of tomatoes, too. I think they taste better than canned- less metallic.

Boxed tomatoes? Really? You always teach me something new.

Nate, now I can't stop singing. Thanks for finding the clip from the movie, too.

Maris, I'm never without a few boxes of these Pomi tomatoes in my pantry.

Maxxy, same here!

Reeni, Susan: An Italian police officer from Boston introduced me to Pomi tomatoes about 15 years ago, and I was hooked from the first taste.

Kalyn, it really was delicious, wasn't it? I think it was your expert debearding of the mussels that made the difference!

Sean, didn't have any this summer, but it was one of the first things we ate on our very first trip to SF many years ago. There's nothing like the real thing.

Karina, I agree. Now when I have tomatoes from a can, I really taste the metal.

I don't much care for either fish or stew but the moment I saw that photo I wanted some. I'm going to need at least a gallon of it to get me through the Fred and Ginger marathon (if only). Thanks for the post, it truly does look scrumptious.

This is some recipe!! And how fun that you and Kalyn got to cook together! Still trying to use up some of the remaining garden tomatoes - it will be back to the canned variety in a few days.

the photography of the tomato soup is amazing; and how fun to make it with a fellow foodie friend ^^

I've never heard of that kind of "canned" tomato. Soup looks good and satisfying.

I love canned tomatoes especially home canned. I miss not canning them too. I don't know what I was thinking not bringing my canning supplies with me.
Our family love the old movies Fred Astaire and Cary Grant movies are my favorites.

I LOVE cioppino! Most recipes I've seen look more like fish in tomato sauce than fish in broth. Yours looks perfect!

ohhh cioppino is my FAVORITE! the first time my husband and i ever had it was on our trip to San Diego a few years back, and we both swear, it's worth a trip back out there just to get it at this one restaurant! i make it as much as i can at home though!

that's a great photo of the cioppino. i love the blue accents. also, i'm excited to try out tomatoes in a box. thanks for the tip!

My husband will love this recipe. I'm not a big fish soup person (don't know why) but I will give this a whirl and will also try to get me some of those boxed tomatoes. I'm sure I can find them in the South End in Hartford. Thanks for the inspiration - as always!

I miss a good cioppino now! I had a really good one in California previously.

I also keep canned tomatoes on hand as I use them frequently. If only my local wholesale club would carry them so I could buy by the case!

Ooh, I love Cioppino and we did have a great one in SF last year...perfect with that SF sourdough.

I do love cioppino. I need to make a batch.

This looks wonderful, I need to make some soon.

Ooh, that looks *so* good!

Sounds wonderful! I haven't had it before but it does seem like a great fall dish. Hubby just loves shrimp and salmon too.

I'd never had or heard of cioppino, but now I know I have to have it. This looks really good. And I'd never seen boxed tomatoes before--I'll have to see if I can find them at other stores

Laurelvan, it will take many gallons to get through all of the Fred and Ginger movies, but wouldn't it be fun to have that marathon? I'd come in a second!

TW, enjoy your last tomatoes of the season. I wonder, what will you make with them? I'd probably eat them as is, just to savor the taste.

Noobcook, we really did have a good time cooking together.

Peabody, these are made by Parmalat, so I think they must be available all over.

Tai-Tai, I'm partial to old Cary Grant movies, too. Wasn't he elegant?

Dawn, this is definitely a broth -- in fact, it's delicious even without the fish.

Natalie, is your recipe similar to this one? I think the fennel really kicks this up.

Renee, thanks -- I'm always trying to improve my photos.

HB, this soup doesn't taste very fishy, because I combine the clam juice with chicken stock instead of using all fish stock. I hope you'll give it a try.

Tigerfish, California is the place for the best cioppino, but this recipe makes a very delicious version.

Carol, my big box stores only sell the gigantic cans of chopped tomatoes. I wish they'd carry these Pomi tomatoes!

Jessica, yes, sourdough is the perfect thing to mop up little bits of soup left in the bowl.

Kevin, George, Lesley: the soup is perfect for this time of year. Enjoy!

Natashya, you can make this soup with any combination of fish, shellfish, or all of one type. I'm betting that you'll like it.

Mike, this soup can be quite addictive. I'm lucky that here in Rhode Island fish and shellfish are abundant. Makes for many possible variations of this soup.

Oh my, this soup looks so delicious! All that yummy seafood.

Ahhh, seafood stews are one of food's jewels. Had this in SF and it rocked. You have fresh seafood there in MASS, no doubt delish.

I haven't tried them chopped yet - but you'll always find canned peeled tomatoes in my pantry, Lydia - can't live without the stuff!

I have never tried this kind of tomato. I'm a HUGE fan of Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes. I'll be looking for this kind though to try it (if I run out of my home canned tomatoes).

I would so love to make this soup. It's so hard to find good fresh seafood here in rural Ohio.

A friend served us your cioppino last night... it was absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

The soup looks wonderful. Tomatoes are a favorite of mine and I always have a large variety in my pantry. They are so versatile.

Veron, this is a soup that always makes me feel better when I eat it.

Peter, the first thing Kalyn said when we were at the fish market was that the same amount of fish would cost a small fortune in Utah. Yes, we are lucky here in New England.

Patricia, if I only had room for one tomato product, it would be whole canned tomatoes, because you can always cut them up. Fortunately, I have lots of storage space!

Susy, I like the Muir Glen, too. But once I stopped buying tomatoes in a can, I could really taste the difference, and now I only buy the box tomatoes.

Chuck, this makes me smile a big giant smile. Thank you!

Pammiedoodle, it's a great soup, really.

Pomi is one of the rare (if not only) brands that offers a "strained" tomatoe product which is important if you have to avoid seeds such as those who suffer from diverticulitis - my mother-in-law did - and her husband only used that brand to make his fantastic red sauce ( or "gravy" as we call it here in MA!)

Love this stuff with crusty bread. So great for chilly weather.

Cioppino is the first thing I cooked for my husband. I guess it worked :) I originally wanted to make him bouillabaisse but could not find what I needed so I found a recipe for cioppino and made that instead. I love it on a cold day with a slice of baguette brushed with olive oil ad garlic.

Mmm, that looks delicious!

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