Traditional Bouillabaisse

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Traditional Bouillabaisse

Traditional Bouillabaisse

Created by Cornelius O'Donnell

Created for the 7 1/2 qt. Bouillabaisse pot
Serves: 6

A combination of soft and firm fish, plus some shellfish, makes a tasty stew. Choose five different fish (not including shellfish) for the best flavor. Try a selection of these for the firm fish: bluefish, swordfish, red snapper, sea bass, cod, monkfish or thick fillets of halibut. Soft fish can include tilapia, perch, flounder, sole or thin fillets of halibut.


Flavor base
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fennel bulb (reserve fine fronds) or 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, sauteed until fragrant
  • 1 leek, rinsed in warm water, diced, and drained well
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme
  • 1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup fish stock or bottled clam juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 1/2 cup Pernod or Ricard liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup chopped Italian parsley, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Fish and shellfish
  • 5 pounds fish fillets, half firm-textured, half soft-textured (see top for suggestions), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 mussels, scrubbed and debearded, or 24 littleneck clams
  • 12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cooked lobster meat cut in chunks, or 12 sea scallops cut in half crosswise
  • Baguette sliced into 1-inch pieces, lightly toasted
  • Rouille (recipe follows)


Heat oil in the bouillabaisse pot over medium heat. Add celery, fennel, leeks, onion, garlic, half the thyme and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes until the mixture is limp.

Add tomatoes, stock, wine, Pernod, saffron, salt and pepper. Raise the heat and bring just to a boil. Immediately lower heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Add mussels to a smaller pan. Add a cup of water, cover, and turn heat to medium-high. Check after 4 minutes. If the mussels have opened, remove from heat. Remove mussels to a bowl and reserve. Discard any unopened mussels. Strain mussel broth through a cheesecloth and add to the tomato mixture. Cook the same way if using clams.

Stir firm fish into the tomato broth and gently mix. Cook 5 minutes, then add soft fish and cook 4 more minutes. Fold in the raw shrimp and scallops. Heat two minutes and fold in the cooked lobster.

Spoon seafood into six shallow soup plates. If the broth seems too thin, reduce it over medium-high heat for several minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup broth for the rouille. Ladle remaining broth into the plates. Garnish with the mussels. Sprinkle with reserved parsley and chopped fennel fronds. Place two baguette slices, each spread with a little rouille, on each plate.


This is a pungent mayonnaise-like sauce.

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 cup of the soup base
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot sauce
  • 1 or 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry (optional)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor or blender, first process the garlic. Add soup base, mustard, egg, cayenne and anchovy. Blend until mixed. Slowly add the oil, until it is a mayonnaise consistency. Refrigerate, covered, if not using immediately. Makes about 1 cup.
Created For
Soup Pot
Main Ingredient
Fish & Seafood
Cooking Time
Under 2 hrs.
Serving Size
6 - 8