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Jessica Karley: Seafood soup is a great way to warm up in cold weather

Warm up this winter with a tasty bowl of Easy Cioppino. FORUM NEWS SERVICE/Jessica Karley

During our recent cold snap, I found myself looking for ways to keep warm.

One of my favorite ways to spend a cold January day is to sip a warm bowl of soup and curl up on the couch with a good book. (OK …well, maybe instead of a good book, it’s been Pinterest on my iPad, but it’s a new year and reading is one resolution that I hope to make more of a habit!)

Of course, the book would get in the way of the hand that is holding a nice piece of crusty French bread to soak up all of the soupy goodness from my bowl, but I will work out those details as they come.

One of my favorite soups is Ciopinno, or seafood stew. Pronounced (chay-pee-no), it’s a delicious Italian American dish that originated in the 1800’s in San Francisco.

The stew was used as a way to serve the leftovers from boats that were coming back from sea.

Cioppino is meant to be served with the crab and shrimp still in the shell, and the fish pieces are generally halved or quartered evenly in size to avoid overcooking.

My Ciopinno recipe is a more family friendly version using shrimp with only the tails and pre-shelled crab.

I also leave out mussels or clams because of the difficulty for a toddler to manage (and because they can look like a scary food to young kids, a problem all parents understand).

You can feel free to mix and match your seafood to meet your personal preferences.

After all, it’s meant as a way to serve the leftovers, so it’s also a great soup to make when it’s time to clean out your freezer.

The fish stew can be served with a nice baguette, but with all of the seafood flavors being created in my kitchen, I started daydreaming about those delicious little cheese biscuits that are served at some local chain restaurants.

I’ve tried a few different copycat recipes in the past, but some mock recipes left me disappointed while others were just OK.

The secret is to use very cold butter and not overmix your dough. The clumps of mix and butter should be the size of small peas when you’re finished cutting (or blending) it together.

Of course, you can use shredded cheddar cheese, but in my house, we like things a little on the spicy side, so I like to use a blend of cheddar and pepper jack cheeses.

Once the biscuits are baked, brush them with a garlic parsley butter, which not only gives them the authentic flavor but also adds a nice pop of color.

These biscuits won’t last long fresh out of the oven, so if you’re feeding a crowd, I would plan on two biscuits per person: one to sample right out of the oven and another to enjoy with your bowl of seafood stew.

Jessica Karley writes for the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald. She can be reached at Read her food blog at

Easy Cioppino (Seafood Stew)

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups yellow onion, diced ½ inch
  • 1 cup celery, diced ½ inch
  • 1 cup carrots, diced ½ inch
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly cracked
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (I used Prego Heart Smart)
  • 1  15-ounce can  of diced tomatoes, seasoned with basil, oregano and garlic
  • 4 medium red potatoes, diced 1 inch
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound jumbo tail on shrimp
  • 1 pound jumbo scallops, size 10 per pound, quartered
  • 1 cup pasteurized lump crab meat, picked over for shells
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot over high heat, add olive oil and heat until simmering. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook until all vegetables are tender and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add cumin and paprika. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add red wine and scrape all browned bits off bottom of pan. Reduce wine by half. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, potatoes, white wine and chicken stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add shrimp, scallops and crab meat (or any other fish you choose). Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until seafood is cooked through. Stir in fresh parsley and serve warm.

Pepper Jack Bay Biscuits

  • 2½ cups Bisquick
  • 4 tablespoons ice cold butter, diced ½ inch
  • ¾ cup cold milk
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine Bisquick and cubed butter. Cut together using a fork or pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly and clumps are about the size of small peas. Add garlic powder and milk. Gently mix with your hands until dry ingredients are moistened. Gently fold in cheeses and place ¼ cup of mixture at a time onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with garlic parsley butter.

Garlic Parsley Butter

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch kosher salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Melt butter in microwave, stir in garlic powder, salt and parsley. Brush on top of biscuits.

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