Acqua Pazza (crazy water soup) is the latest addition to our Winter menu – an Italian version of a Bouillabaisse, this tangy, filling, low-cal soup is a perfect warm-up on Winter nights. And it’s easy to make at home. Don’t let the number of ingredients intimidate you they’re simmered tossed in the pot.

Historians think Acqua Pazza originated centuries ago in Tuscany. Wine-making peasants had to give most of their vino to the landlord, leaving them little to drink. Ever resourceful, the peasants mixed the wine-making leftovers with lots of water, boiled it and then sealed it in terracotta vases. After fermenting for several days, this wine-colored water was eminently drinkable and dubbed ‘Acqua Pazza.’

Later, Neapolitan fisherman would remember the color of this wine when they sautéed the day’s catch with seawater, tomatoes and olive oil. Acqua Pazza or crazy water soup was born!

Servings: two

Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes


Six 1/2 inch thick slices Baguette or other rustic bread
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • Brush slices on both sides of the sliced bread with oil and grill or broil until crispy.


1 cup good quality mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 small clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 drop Tabasco Sauce ¼ teaspoon lime juice Pinch of Salt


Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Spread on toasted crostini.
Can be made one day in advance and stored, covered, in refrigerator.


Makes two 15 ounce entrée-sized servings
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3-4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 small yellow onion, sliced
2 each green onion, cut in 1″ pieces (use green and white parts)
1 cup clam juice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Marinara Sauce (if not using a homemade sauce, a bottled sauce with a strong tomato flavor is preferred)
6 Manila clams
3 large mussels
1/2 lb assorted firm fish such as rock cod, swordfish or Alaskan Halibut cut into 1-2″ cubes
2 lemon slices (1/4” thick)
1 cup tomatoes, (Heirloom preferred) chopped into 1″ chunks
12 shrimp (US wild preferred), peeled and deveined
1/2 cup calamari, cleaned with bodies cut into 1″ pieces
Salt and pepper to taste Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh basil – chopped


Be sure to add the seafood in the order they are listed due to their different cooking times.

  • In a large sauce pan combine olive oil with sliced garlic and yellow and green onions and cook over high heat until onions start to soften. Add clam juice and water, fish, clams, mussels, red pepper, marinara sauce, and lemon slices.
  • Bring to a boil and IMMEDIATELY reduce heat so it boils gently until clams and mussels have opened, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Gently stir in the shrimp and calamari gently trying to avoid breaking up the fish. Turn the heat back up a little and after a minute remove from heat, add the basil and ladle into warm serving bowls.

Chef Alan Fairhurst
Scoma’s Restaurant
San Francisco, CA