Zuppa di Pesce


When I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I could easily find fresh fish and seafood just about any time of the year. The fish counter in my neighborhood market carried a good supply, but the place to go was Race Street Fish and Poultry, a little local market that had the best seafood in town.

There were also plenty of great restaurants to get your fix of fish. Sometimes, on Sundays, after mass we would take my mother for a drive and out to dinner.

One such Sunday, we headed for one of our favorite places, By’ the Bucket, an Italian restaurant that serves fantastic fish and seafood. We made ourselves comfortable in the crowded dining room filled with families. It wasn’t long before our waiter took each of our orders and when he got to Joe, my 5 year old son, Joe just pointed to the table next to us and proclaimed, “I’d like that please.”

When the server returned, he placed a large bucket filled with steamed clams in front of  my son. Joe just stared at the bucket, he had never had clams before, which the waiter immediately picked up on. Our thoughtful server proceeded to show Joe how to eat them, instructing him to dip a chunk of crusty bread into the aromatic broth after each bite. Joe loved them, ate them all (with a little help). My little five year old is a foodie!

Now, that we live in Arizona, great fresh fish, if you can find it, is pretty pricey. I use frozen white fish for the stock and canned clams for this soup. If you like steamed clams, you’ll enjoy this soup even when there’s not a fresh clam in sight.  This one’s for you Joe!


  • 1 pound frozen firm white fish, defrosted
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 shallots, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 can clams
  • Italian parsley, chopped
  1. In a large pot, place fish fillets, onion, shallot, salt and pepper.
  2. Add water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain, reserving the stock and fish separately.
  4. In the same pot, heat the olive oil, add onions, shallots and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms have softened, 5 minutes or so.
  5. Add the reserved stock and milk, bring to a boil.
  6. Mix the flour with the wine, add to the stock and boil for a minute or two.
  7. Flake the fish, remove any bones, add to the soup.
  8. Add the clams, season with salt and pepper.
  9. To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley, serve with crusty, chewy, country bread.



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