Cacciucco Livornese: Tuscan Fish Stew Soup Recipe

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C alla Livornese is a stewed fish soup. The recipe has changed from the fisherman version, perhaps becoming more refined, by entering the kitchens of restaurants and hotels. The following recipe does not take into account the variations of the classic formula of Cacciucco, which are often the fruit of the imagination of famous chefs. The ingredients of Cacciucco generally are various kinds of inexpensive fish such as capon fish, mantis shrimps, conger, moray eels, dogfish, scorpion fish and cuttlefish or small octopuses.

The ingredients for Cacciucco:

1.5 Kg of various kinds of soup fish: capon fish, mantis shrimps, conger, moray eels, dogfish, red or black scorpion fish, hake, mullet and St. Peter’s fish.
500 g of octopus and squid and cuttlefish
500 g of mussels and clams
Eight prawns
One onion
A celery stick
Three cloves of garlic
A small bunch of parsley
800 g of peeled tomatoes
8 slices of stale bread
1 dl of olive oil (half glass)
A bay leaf
Thyme
Red hot chili pepper
A glass of dry red wine
Salt
Pepper

How to make Cacciucco: the procedure

Clean all the fish and keep aside the heads of the bigger ones, remove the shell of the shrimps, clean the cuttlefish or squid and octopus by removing both the eyes and the ink sack.

After cleaning and washing the mussels and clams thoroughly, make them open up in a saucepan, keeping the cooking liquid and only half shell of each.

Put the fish heads in a saucepan, cover them up with water and bring to boil to make a broth.

Chop up the carrot, celery, garlic and parsley, stir them in a pan with the hot olive oil, immediately add the red pepper, thyme and the bay leaf, then add the cuttlefish and octopus squid cut into pieces. Wait few minutes then pour two tablespoons of vinegar and as soon as it is all evaporated add the white wine.

After the wine is all evaporated, add chopped fresh tomatoes (or canned if you don’t have fresh ones), salt and pepper. When the shellfish is tender add the strained fish head broth, then add the other fish, prawns and, almost at the end of cooking, the mussels with clams.

Toast a couple of Tuscan bread slices per person, rub fresh garlic on each side and set them at the bottom of each serving bowl. Once all the fish is cooked, pour the Cacciucco on top and serve hot.

The cacciucco should be juicy but not too watery.

Buon appetito!