Brodetto di Pesce (Adriatic Fish Broth)

  • Serves

    serves 6


Fish soups of this kind are common all along Italy's Adriatic coast—but this version, from a Venetian fishmonger, is unusually full of flavor.


  • 1 12 lb. large whole shrimp
  • 10 lb. assorted heads, bones, and skin from non-oily fish (monkfish, rouget, fluke, grouper, red snapper, sea bass, halibut)
  • 12 lb. mussels, debearded
  • 12 lb. clams, scrubbed
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large white onion, halved
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 12 bunch parsley, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 cup tocai friulano or other dry Friuli white wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 12 lb. assorted filets from non-oily fish (as above), cut into 2" pieces


Step 1

Peel shrimp, cut off heads, then put heads and shells in a large heavy pot. Cut shrimp into large pieces and refrigerate. Add fish heads, bones, and skin, mussels, clams, peppercorns, tomatoes, onion, carrot, celery, and 4 quarts cold water to pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, uncover, and simmer for 1 hour. Remove pot from heat, cover, and set aside for 20–30 minutes to allow any sediment to settle. Strain broth through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a large bowl. Discard solids.

Step 2

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and light brown, about 30 seconds. Remove garlic from oil and discard. Add parsley and swirl in pot for a few seconds, then add wine and cook until alcohol has evaporated, 3–5 minutes.

Step 3

Add strained fish broth to pot, leaving any broth with sediment behind. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until broth has reduced by about one third. You should have 10–12 cups of broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Broth may be made up to this point and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.)

Step 4

Bring broth to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add pieces of fish filet and shrimp and poach until just cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Ladle broth into bowls and serve with some grated parmigiano-reggiano and toasted crusty bread brushed with a little olive oil, if you like.

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