More >

Classic Fish Stew from Livorno

Cacciucco alla Livornese


This dish originated with fishermen in Livorno; they sold the best of their catch and used what was left over and unwanted at day's end to make fish stew. A variety of fish went into the pot including squid, monkfish and cod. Tradition dictates that at least 5 different types of fish be used, one for each of the "c"s in the word cacciucco, which means mixture.

In this preparation start by adding he fish that takes the longest to cook. Make sure all the fish is cut the same size to keep down cooking time. This dish from start to finish should take about 25 minutes and is even better the next day. Crackling, crusty bread and a crisp salad make the meal both wholesome and complete. This stew is usually cooked in an earthenware pot atop the stove. Use your heaviest pot.


1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 cup parsley leaves

8 basil leaves

1/4 cup Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

2/3 cup dry white wine

2 cups peeled and diced plum tomatoes

1 cup clam juice, fish bouillon or water

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or more to taste

1/2 pound cleaned squid, cut into 1-inch rings

1/2 pound swordfish, skinned and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 pound medium shrimp (about 13) shelled or bite-size pieces of cod or other firm fish

1/4 pound sea scallops

1/4 pound monk fish

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

8 toasted bread slices


In a food processor or by hand, mince the onion, garlic, parsley and basil together. Heat the oil in a heavy-duty pot and stir in the minced onion mixture. Cook over low heat until the ingredients soften, then stir in the pepper flakes and cook 1 minute longer.

Raise the heat to high, pour in the wine and allow most of it to evaporate. Lower heat and stir in the tomatoes, clam juice and salt. When bubbles just begin to appear on the sides of the pot, begin adding the fish pieces in the order given, allowing the squid to cook for 5 minutes before adding the swordfish. Cook just until the fish turns opaque or whitish looking and flakes easily with a fork and the shrimp have turned pink. Stir in the lemon juice and correct the salt, if necessary.

Ladle the soup over the toasted bread slices and serve piping hot.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA IN TUSCANY by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press.


  1. silverio califano's avatar

    silverio califano

    Fantastic website, and the way you included the videos makes it all the better! Can't say enough good things about it. DELICIOUS!!!!!
  2. Michele Speciale-Munoz's avatar

    Michele Speciale-Munoz

    ENJOY cooking & trying new recipes to cook for family & friends!!!☺
  3. Jeff Freeman's avatar

    Jeff Freeman

    I LOVE Mary Ann!!! She has dared me to cook start cooking outside the box! I'm finding that I can actually make pretty good food based the way she goes thru each recipe step by step! My husband doesn't complain either so that makes a win-win situation for all while I learn! Thank you Mary Ann!
  4. Henry's avatar


    I tried this recipe last night, had to substitute mahi for the swordfish, but went by the recipe otherwise. It was excellent! Served over the bread as shown on the episode, the fresh calimari came out very tender and the monk fish was great! ( the first time we had monk fish) We will do this again and would recommend it to any seafood lover!
  5. Gina's avatar


    In the video saffron is added to the stew but there is no mention of this in the recipe. Nor is the polenta added to the written portion.

    Just saying that if you plan to make this it would be good to watch the video.

Leave a Comment

Looking for even more photos and recipes?
Order my latest book.

Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy

Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.

Order using this link and receive a signed book plate.

Available now!