Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve

When I was growing up, I always wanted to have Christmas Eve dinner with my friend Richie s family. They were Italian and every Christmas Eve they served the Feast of Seven Fishes. The meal offers seven different seafood dishes. The tradition comes from Southern Italy, where it is known simply as The Vigil (La Vigilia). This celebration commemorates the wait for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.
This Cioppino recipe puts all Seven fishes in one dish. This stew is a perfect dish to serve on Christmas Eve and easy to prepare.   Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, preparing food for loved ones is the best gift you can offer.


  • 1 bulb fennel 
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (8 oz) bottles clam juice
  • 1/2 lb monkfish or halibut
  • 1/2 lb cod 
  • 1 lb calamari
  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 1 lb mussels, scrubbed
  • 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs Dungeness crab legs
  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined


  • Trim the fennel and chop. In a large, heavy-bottom pot, heat the oil on medium-high. Cook the onion shallots and fennel 8 min., until golden, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic. Cook 1 min., stirring. Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, clam juice, salt and pepper and heat to a boil on high. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook 10 min.
  • Cut the monkfish and cod into 2-inch chunks. Slice the calamari into ½-inch-thick rings. Chop the basil.
  • Add the mussels, clams and crab legs to the pot. Cook 3 min., until some of the shells just start to open, stirring once. Nestle the monkfish, cod, shrimp, and calamari into the liquid and among the mussels and clams. Cover and cook another 5–7 min., until fish is opaque, shrimp is pink, and clams and mussels are open. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately with fresh crusty bread. Garnish with basil.

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