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Recipe Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is a classic Provencal fish soup served from the finest restaurants to the smallest cafes throughout Europe. References to it go back hundreds of years, but generally it’s origins are considered to be from that cradle of southern French cooking, Marseilles. The stock gets its rich flavors from herbs, fish heads, bones, shellfish and vegetables. Traditionally, it is served with crusty artisan bread, perhaps toasted and a rouille, a slightly spicy sauce for dipping. 

Recipes abound for Bouillabaisse and each cook tends to think their own is the best. This recipe takes advantage of traditional flavors, with a few short cuts for convenience. A recipe for the rouille is included below. This is a recipe that lends itself well to experimenting, allowing it to evolve into your own dish..


3 tbl extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

1 cup chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed

2 quarts water

1 cup white wine (optional)

1 sprig each of parsley, fennel, thyme and basil

2 cups tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp powdered saffron

1 tsp sea or kosher salt

3-4 lbs fish heads, bones and shrimp shells 

1 lb peeled shrimp (shells can be used for above)

1 lb fleshy fish such as halibut, flounder, whitefish or sole, coarsely chopped

1 lb debearded and well scrubbed mussels or clams

1 tbl orange zest

cracked pepper to taste

1 loaf whole wheat artisan bread


Heat two tablespoons of the EVOO in a large stockpot and saute the onions and garlic until tender. Add the walter, wine, herbs, tomatoes, salt, fish heads, bones and shells. Bring to a boil, stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes. Pour the broth through a colander or strainer into a large bowl to separate it from the solids. Discard the solids. Pour the third tablespoon of EVOO into the stockpot and raise the heat to medium high. Add the fish and saute for about one minute. Add the stock and the shrimp and mussels or clams and the orange zest. Reduce the heat to a simmer until the mussels have just opened. Add the pepper to taste. Serve with bread and rouille. Serves 6.


1 garlic clove, peeled and mashed

1/2 tsp sea or kosher salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

3/4 cup bread crumbs

3 tbl bouillabaisse broth

2 tbl fresh parsley

1 tbl fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup EVOO

Mash the garlic and cayenne into the salt in a small bowl. Add the bread crumbs, broth, parsley and lemon juice and stir to moisten. Place the mixture into a food processor and set to puree. Add the EVOO slowly as needed to make a thick sauce. Serve with the artisan bread.

For more variations see:

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