Fish soup is prepared all along the Mediterranean coast. There are many varieties such as bouillabaisse from France and zarzuela from Spain. Cacciccuo alla Livornese is a fish soup from the Tuscan coast that has three distinguishing features: it is made with (and accompanied by) local red wine, it is made with tomatoes, and it is served on top of toasted bread. Fish is usually served with white wine, but in this case a young Chianti Classico is both a vital ingredient and a great wine pairing. Cacciucco should have four types of seafood: crustaceans, shells, mollusks, and fish. The traditional fish to use for this is palombo (houndshark), but since that is not available here I’ve used swordfish instead. This fish soup has amazing depth of flavor, and would indeed overpower a white wine. If you like bold flavors and seafood, you will love this soup!
500 grams (1.1 lbs) vongole or mussels, soaked in salt water for an hour to allow them to purge themselves, then rinsed
6 scampi or jumbo shrimp
250 grams (.55 lbs) squid or octopus, cleaned and cut into rings
250 grams (.55 lbs) swordfish or shark
1 clove garlic, minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1 dried chile pepper, crumbled
1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 onion, minced
125 ml (1/2 cup) Chianti Classico + a bit more
200 grams (7 oz) peeled tomatoes (1/2 can), pureed in the food processor
3 slices of Italian bread
extra virgin olive oil
For the fish stock
250 grams (.55 lbs) fish heads and bones
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1/2 tsp black pepper corns
1 bay leaf
1 sprig parsley
Start by making the fish stock. Soak the fish heads and bones in cold water to remove any blood and odors. Put the fish heads and bones in a pot together with the carrot, onion, celery, pepper corns, bay leaf, and parsley, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
This is truly amazing with a young Chianti Classico (2-3 years after the vintage).
Grilled lamb skewers with pancetta and balsamic is one of my favorites for grilling.