Discover a Mouthwatering Zuppa di Pesce Recipe Below

What is Zuppa di Pesce?

Every seafood lover deserves a classic Zuppa di pesce recipe in their kitchen. If you are new to seafood cuisines, Zuppa di pesce basically translates to fish soup in Italian. 

It is a rustic stew filled with seafood such as shrimp, squid, mussels, clams, white wine, cod (simmered in tomato), and fennel broth. This article shares a classic mouthwatering Zuppa di pesce napoletana worth trying. Let’s get started.

Zuppa di Pesce recipe

Zuppa di Pesce’s Pronunciation

Zuppa di pesce is an Italian phrase pronounced as “zu-pah di pe-she.”

Making Zuppa di Pesce

Zuppa di pesce is a Neapolitan fish stew with a rich broth brimming with a delicious flavor that forms a foundation for the best fresh seafood, charred and seared on medium-high heat. Making Zuppa di pesce is incredibly easy and effortless; it involves a one-hour recipe that will wow everybody. Check out our classic Zuppa di pesce recipe below:

Zuppa di Pesce Recipe

Time: 1 hour

Serving size: 4 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Nutritional Facts/Info per Serving/in Total:

  • Calories: 650 kcal
  • Protein: 2.71 ounces (76.9 grams) 
  • Carbohydrates: 0.95 ounces (26.9 grams)
  • Fat: 0.67 ounces (19.2 grams)
  • Saturated fat: 0.11 ounces (3.2 grams)
  • Calcium: 213 milligrams (0.213 grams)
  • Sodium: 1037 milligrams (1.037 grams)
  • Iron: 17 milligrams (0.017 grams)
  • Cholesterol: 478 milligrams (0.478 grams)
  • Potassium: 1,426 milligrams (1.426 grams)
  • Sugar: 0.12 ounces (3.5 grams)
  • Fiber: 0.08 ounces (2.3 grams)

Equipment Needed

  1. Large pot or Dutch oven
  2. Cutting board
  3. Ladle
  4. Sharp knives


  • 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) mussels
  • ¾ pound (0.34 kilograms) cod (or meaty white fish)
  • ¾ pound (0.34 kilograms) calamari (cleaned and cut into 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters) rings)
  • ¾ pound (0.34 kilograms) large shrimp
  • 12 little neck clams (cleaned)
  • 2 medium shallots (diced)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic (sliced)
  • 28 ounces (793.78 grams) of plum tomatoes (2 cans)
  • 1 medium fennel bulb (sliced)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 10 fluid ounces (295.73 milliliters) of clam juice
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup parsley (minced)


  1. Heat your pot or Dutch oven on medium-low heat. Use extra virgin olive oil to sauté the fennel and shallot for about five minutes. Add in garlic and continue cooking for about two minutes.
  2. Add crushed red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds. Pour in one cup of white wine and raise the heat to medium-high. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot to remove the brown residue. 
  3. Let the wine simmer for about two minutes, then increase the heat to medium and add the plum tomatoes and clam juice. Before adding any seafood, let the sauce boil at a moderate temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the calamari and allow it to cook for about 15 minutes. Add the cod fish to the mixture and cook for an additional five minutes. After that, put in clams and cover your pot with a lid. Let it cook until the clams split open (about five to seven minutes).
  5. Lastly, put in the shrimp and mussels and cook while covered until the shrimp turn pink and the mussels split open. Remove any mussels or clams that don’t open.
  6. Taste your soup and add salt or pepper as you prefer. Turn off the heat and sprinkle parsley on your food before serving. Serve in bowls with your preferred side dish. Enjoy!


  • Be cautious when adding salt to your Zuppa di pesce, as shellfish contains a lot of salt. Add pepper and salt to taste immediately before serving to achieve the ideal flavors.
  • To soak up the sauce, serve your soup with lots of bread. Zuppa di pesce goes well with toasted bread smeared with crushed garlic cloves.
  • You can use different varieties of fish to substitute clams. Use what is readily available for you.
  • Normally, you can get cleaned mussels with beards removed; however, it would be best to scrub and thoroughly inspect them before cooking.
  • Although you should eat leftover seafood immediately, you can store it for up to three days in the fridge and gently warm it on the stovetop.

How to Clean Your Fish Before Cooking

Before you prepare your soup:

  1. Begin by cleaning all of the fish.
  2. Remove the scales and fins, then gut them.
  3. Cut off the head and tail sections; then, cut them into two to three slices depending on their length.

For prawns, remove the head and carapace to clean them. Clean the byssus and any other dirt from the shell of the mussels. Remove the head section of the cod fish and slice its body into 0.39-inch (one-centimeter) strips. If the cod fish is not clean, remove the guts before cutting them into strips).

Note: Set aside or throw away everything else, including heads, bones, shells, and other scraps. You may use them to make a nice fumet to cook the soup if you wish.

Our Top Italian Fish Stew-Making Tips

Choosing Your Ingredients

For a classic Zuppa di pesce, it is advisable to use high-quality ingredients, particularly seafood. For this specific dish, use cod; Nonetheless, you may still use any hardy white fish, including snapper, sole, monkfish, or halibut.

Feel free to blend in other seafood ingredients in the same way as you prefer, but that depends on what is freshly available. You might want to use all mussels with no shells, lobster instead of shrimp, etc. Be sure to ask your fishmonger for the freshest seafood option you can get.

Preparing Your Ingredients

Any wild clams you purchase may need purging. Although you may probably get cleaned and debearded mussels straight from the market, you should still scrub and inspect them before using them, and if necessary, remove any beards. This applies to all other ingredients; ensure you clean them properly before cooking.

The Cooking Process

Although it may seem tempting, do not cook the entire batch of seafood at once since some ingredients may get overcooked. It’s crucial to start cooking the seafood that takes the longest (such as the squid) first, then go on to the fish, and so forth. Following the directions highlighted in our Zuppa di pesce recipe above would be best.


Considering how salty shellfish naturally is, you might not even need to add much more. Before adding any salt or pepper, it’s crucial to taste the Zuppa di pesce.


Fennel fronds, parsley, and obviously a toasted piece of Italian bread with garlic-rubbed crust are the most popular and favorite additions to Zuppa di pesce. You can also add a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil on top for good measure. Please take note that none of these garnishing ingredients are compulsory. Feel free to leave out any as per your liking.

Zuppa di Pesce on the table

Origins and Variations

Like other places with renowned cuisines, the origins of this delectable seafood soup lie in its usefulness and accessibility. To use up the day’s unsold catch, fishermen around Italy’s extensive coast devised Zuppa di pesce soup and its numerous varieties.

This changed from being just about fish to a symphony of seafood, even though it was more of a stew than a soup.

While some regions of Italy serve their Zuppa di pesce soup with a dozen different kinds of fish, others top their soup with salsa verde. Some add saffron and cook their shellfish over charcoal before adding it to the soup, while others add olives or raisins. The aim is to get inventive with how to cook it easily while using whatever is in season and excess.

There are many varieties of the Italian fish soup Zuppa di pesce; this depends on the region and personal preference. Despite being a soup, it resembles a fish stew and frequently contains various shellfish. These recipes differ slightly, especially regarding what and when to add them.

Some recipes instruct you to add the calamari and/or clams to the garlic sofrito before the tomatoes. Other recipes advise adding the wine either before or after the tomato. Also, you can put the garlic at the beginning or the end, along with the parsley, practically whenever.

Additionally, you can add chopped, sliced, or slightly smashed garlic, depending on how ubiquitous you want it to be. Although some recipes call for onion in place of or in addition to garlic, northern varieties of Zuppa di pesce soup are more likely to contain onion.


This version of Zuppa di pesce is native to Genoa, Italy. Although this cuisine was loosely named after a French word for boil, burrida comes from the Arabic word “bourride,” meaning small pieces. The main ingredients in this stew are angler fish, cuttlefish, and anchovies stewed with olive oil, mushrooms, pine nuts, capers, parsley, and/or other herbs.

Modern variants, however, frequently incorporate onions, tomatoes, and different types of fish like red mullet, cuttlefish, baby octopus, or monkfish. Fried crabmeat, squid, and anchovies are common regional additions, along with carrots, peas, beets, artichokes, celery, or olives. If you love burrida, you can try out this easy Ligurian burrida recipe:

Ligurian Burrida Recipe

Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Serving size: 6 to 8 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Nutritional Facts/Info per Serving/in Total:
  • Calories: 280.2
  • Carbohydrates: 0.67 ounces (19.2 grams)
  • Protein: 1.16 ounces (32.9 grams)
  • Fiber: 0.17 ounces (5 grams)
  • Sugars: 0.37 ounces (10.7 grams)
Equipment Needed
  1. Large saucepan/Dutch oven/casserole dish
  2. Sharp knives
  3. Cutting board
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 28.74 fluid ounces (850 milliliters) of fresh fish stock
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 12 raw mussels
  • 12 squid rings
  • 12 raw king prawns
  • 6 monkfish steaks on the bone
  • 6 small bass or sea bream filets
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, casserole dish, or Dutch oven.
  2. Add the carrot, onion, thyme, and garlic and slowly cook for five minutes on low heat.
  3. Add the fish stock and tomatoes.
  4. Add salt, freshly ground pepper, and a little sugar for seasoning.
  5. Cover your pot with a cartouche (a lid made of baking paper) and allow it to simmer gently for two hours while you periodically stir.
  6. Add the monkfish, squid, king prawns, bass, and mussels when the fish and seafood are fully cooked. Simmer for five to 10 minutes.
  7. Pour your burrida into a bowl and put slices of toasted garlic Italian bread, then serve.


Cacciucco is a classic fish stew of the western coastal villages of Tuscany, Italy. This delectable seafood comes in two varieties; one recipe is from Livorno, and the other is from Viareggio. The cacciucco recipe includes a variety of fish, usually from less desirable species, such as crustaceans, mollusks, octopuses, slipper lobsters, cuttlefishes, and other mollusks.

Typically, they are separately cooked (because of the varied cooking times) and combined in a tomato sauce before serving with some slices of toasted garlic bread. There are roughly 13 different fish species included in the classic cacciucco recipe. However, as it varies depending on the day’s catch, the number of fish species used is only approximately six or seven. 

Hence, there are no strict guidelines about the kinds of fish that one must use to make cacciucco; rather, feel free to select the best soup fishes that suit your personal preference.

Livorno and Viareggio cacciucco cooking techniques vary between the two recipes even though the ingredients are identical.

The first step in making Livorno cacciucco is to cut and saute the onion, garlic, parsley, and chili. Then, pour wine over everything. Add the fish and tomato sauce to the mixture once the wine evaporates and allow it to cook.

To make the Viareggio caciucco, fry just the minced garlic and chili before adding white wine, water, and fish. Once you add those ingredients, you can either add passata, tomato sauce, or diluted tomato concentrate.

The primary distinction between the two varieties is that the Viareggio cacciucco is more liquid, whereas the Livorno cacciucco appears to be a thick and creamy fish stew. It is typically served alongside toasted garlic bread and regarded as a fish broth.

Cacciucco (Tuscan Seafood Stew) Recipe

Time: 25 minutes

Serving size: 5 to 6 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Nutritional Facts/Info per Serving/in Total:
  • Calories: 247 kcal
  • Protein: 0.98 ounces (28 grams)
  • Fat: 0.14 ounces (3.9 grams)
  • Fiber: 0.17 ounces (5 grams)
  • Carbohydrates: 0.90 ounces (25.6 grams)
Equipment Needed
  1. Large saucepan/Dutch oven
  2. Sharp knives
  3. Cutting board
  4. Large bowl
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 pinch of fennel seeds
  • 1 pinch of pepper flakes
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 small octopus, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced
  • 1 small squid, cleaned and sliced into rings
  • 2 sprigs of sage
  • 8.45 fluid ounces (250 milliliters) of red wine
  • 33.81 fluid ounces (1 liter) of fish stock
  • 13.52 fluid ounces (400 milliliters) of passata
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • 7.05 ounces (200 grams) of red snapper filet, cut into 6 pieces
  • 7.05 ounces (200 grams) of gurnard, cut into 6 pieces
  • 7.05 ounces (200 grams) of clams, cleaned
  • 6 langoustines
  • 7.05 ounces (200 grams) of monkfish tail, cut into 6 pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 slices of bread, toasted
  • Parsley, chopped
  1. Put a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil with the fennel and pepper flakes. Then, add garlic, onion, celery, and a pinch of salt to taste. Let it simmer until tender but not colored.
  2. Remove and set aside the vegetables, then increase the heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Put in the squid and octopus and cook the seafood until part of the released liquid evaporates.
  3. Re-add the set-aside vegetables to the pan, add the red wine and sage, and simmer until the liquid reduces by half. Add the passata and 20.28 fluid ounces (600 milliliters) of fish stock and boil for an hour while stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the remaining fish stock and pieces to the stew to help loosen it up. Avoid over-stirring because it will disintegrate the fish. Add the langoustines, cover your pot with a lid, and let it simmer for about five minutes.
  5. Place the clams into the stew. Cook for three to four minutes until the shells split open, covered with a lid. Remove any clams that don’t open.
  6. Serve the dish over garlic-rubbed toast and top with freshly chopped parsley.


Brodetto is a fish stew that originates from Marche, Italy. This cuisine has similar ingredients to classic Zuppa di pesce stew. While most brodetto recipes have five different types of fish, the classic brodetto all’Anconetana has at least 13 fish varieties.

Brodetto fish stew has numerous recipes, even within its native Marche region. All you need to do when making this cuisine is be creative with freshly available fish. Here is a simple Ancona-style brodetto recipe:

Zuppa di Pesce Brodetto (Ancona-style) Recipe

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Serving size: 6 servings

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Nutritional Facts/Info per Serving/in Total:
  • Calories: 395
  • Fat: 0.25 ounces (7 grams)
  • Carbs: 1.12 ounces (32 grams)
  • Protein: 1.69 ounces (48 grams)
Equipment Needed
  1. Saucepan/Dutch oven/clay pot
  2. Sharp knives
  3. Cutting board
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 carrot (chopped)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 celery ribs (chopped)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) of clams in shell (scrubbed)
  • ½ pound (0.22 kilograms) medium shrimp (with shells)
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 28-ounce (793.78 grams) can of whole peeled tomatoes (crushed)
  • 1 ½ pounds (0.68 kilograms) red snapper filets, cut into 2 inches (5.08 centimeters) pieces
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper (optional)
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 6 (¾-inch/1.90-centimeter thick) slices of toasted Italian bread
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a sizable saucepan, Dutch oven, or, ideally, a clay pot.
  2. Add the bay leaves, parsley, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for about five minutes until the onion softens and turns translucent.
  3. Add the mashed tomatoes and cook for roughly 15 minutes over medium heat. Then, Put the fish in and add wine or vinegar. After 10 minutes of cooking, pour the fish stock when the liquid almost completely evaporates.
  4. Cover your pot with a lid and allow your seafood to simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.
  5. Gently add the clams and let them cook for about two minutes until they split open (discard any that don’t). Add the shrimp and allow it to cook for about three minutes until the shrimp are pink.
  6. Put a slice of garlic or toasted bread in a bowl, pour over your Zuppa di pesce brodetto, and serve immediately.
Italian Zuppa di Pesce

Your Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is Marechiara Sauce?

Marechiara is an Italian sauce native to Naples, used explicitly with seafood. Nonetheless, it is one of the simplest sauces to prepare. Marechiara sauce ingredients include olive oil, white wine, garlic, chopped tomatoes, and parsley.

Other variations of marechiara recipes have clams, fish, or mussels in a tomato sauce seasoned with parsley and garlic.

You can use red chili pepper flakes and chopped olives, a typical garnish for Neapolitan cuisine, to make a spicier version of seafood marechiara. The uniqueness of marechiara sauce comes from unblended tomatoes, making this cuisine a thick sauce. The tomato juice helps to create a flavorful, light broth.

The Final Say

There is always something new to discover in the world of seafood cuisines, including new twists on old favorites, regional specialties, and experimental dishes that may or may not appeal to your palate. The diverse variations of Zuppa di pesce are the best illustration of this.

Zuppa di pesce is proof of how much Italians adore seafood. Although any time of the year is a great time to enjoy Zuppa di pesce, it is a great way to celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.