This succulent, tomatoey soup originated with the fishermen in the coastal towns of Tuscany where after selling the “best” of the day’s catch would make this stew from what they had left. As tradition tells, there are five different types of fish and seafood in this stew, one for each “c” in the name.
- 5 Tbs. olive oil; more for the grill
- 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 cup coarsely chopped white onion
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped celery, leaves reserved for garnish
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fennel, fronds reserved for garnish
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced leek, white and light-green parts only
- 2 oz. piece of pancetta or slab bacon
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes; more to taste
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 10 oz. calamari, rings only
- 1 piece dry kombu, (about 7-1/2 inches long by 3 inches wide), wiped clean with a damp paper towel
- 6 cups canned crushed tomatoes with juices, preferably San Marzano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 18 Manila or littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 18 mussels, debearded and scrubbed
- 6 extra-colossal head-on shrimp (less than 10 per lb.)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 3 center-cut, skin-on bronzino fillets (about 3/4 lb. total)
- 3/4 cup lightly packed mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, basil, and dill
- 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- Flaky sea salt
- Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium high (400°F to 475°F).
- Heat the 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic, onion, celery, fennel, leek, and pancetta, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften and turn golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and wine, and cook, uncovered, until most of the wine has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the calamari, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, until the rings are opaque and firm, about 5 minutes. Add the kombu and tomatoes, and simmer, covered, for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove and discard the pancetta and the kombu. Add 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and stir gently. Raise the heat to medium high, and add the clams, mussels, and shrimp. Cover the pot and give it a shake. Cook until the clams and mussels open and the shrimp is pink and opaque, about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, score the bronzino’s skin at 1-inch intervals. Brush both sides of the bronzino fillets with the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill the fish, skin side down, until charred and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until done, about 1 minute more.
- Put the herbs in a small bowl with the celery leaves and fennel fronds. Toss with a light drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the lemon juice.
- To serve, divide the calamari, clams, mussels, and broth among six shallow bowls, discarding any unopened clams and mussels. Cut the bronzino filets in half and position a piece, skin side up, in the center of each bowl. Garnish each bowl with the fresh herb salad, drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, and serve.