Cacciucco alla Viareggina

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Cacciucco, perhaps comes from the Turkish world “kuciuck”, which means minute, small, and indicates precisely a dish in which ingredients are made into small pieces. Cacciucco is a popular seafood soup from the coast of Livorno and Viareggio, but each town has its own recipe.

Making cacciucco fish soup in Viareggio

It has been said that the really original one comes from Livorno. Authentic Cacciucco Livornese is very thick and dark. Its consistency is like a stew: it’s made from many kinds of fish and molluscs, but not with refined seafood. Forming the base of the dish is a mixture of garlic, pepper and sage. The soup from Livorno contains octopus and cuttlefish, some mantis shrimp and different kinds of small and medium size low value or trash fish.

Cacciucco alla Viareggina is lighter and has a red broth. It doesn’t contain sage and is always flavoured with a generous amount of shellfish and seafood, which gives it a slightly sweet aftertaste. But which one is better? No competioton among he two,just different.

Serves 6

For the fish stock

– 1 celery
– 1 carrot
– 1 bay leaf
– Some fish heads

For the fish stew:

– A head of garlic, chopped
– Chilli pepper
– Extra virgin olive oil
– 500 g octopus
– 500 g cuttlefish
– 1,200 g of low value or trash fish
– White wine
– 2 tablespoons tomato paste
– At least 4 mussels per person
– 1 mantis shrimp per person


– Clean all the different kinds of fish
– Boil the celery, the carrot, the bay leaves and the fish heads in a large pot in order to obtain a salty broth,
– Sauté the garlic and the chilli in a large pan with extra virgin olive oil. Then add the octopus and the squid, previously cleaned and cut,
– Sprinkle with the white wine and after few minutes add the tomato paste, a ladleful of broth and cook for half an hour,
– Add the fish previously cut in medium chunks. and the mantis shrimp to the pan, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Once cooked, add more broth to the cacciucco to obtain the desired consistency,
– Meanwhile, cook the mussels by steaming them over medium heat until the shells open. Once opened, sauté them with some chopped garlic and extra virgin olive oil,
– Serve your cacciucco soup with the mussels and a slice of rubbed garlic bread. Match with a glass of Chianti.

Luca Lucchesi, chef at Antica Osteria da Luca (Viareggio)