How To Make A Classic Bouillabaisse

How To Make A Classic Bouillabaisse

How To Make A Classic Bouillabaisse Restaurants the world over are vying with each other to elevate humble peasant food to the highest echelons of haute cuisine. A classic example of such a dish is bouillabaisse. Today, this humble soul food is prepared in most high end restaurants through out the world.

Bouillabaisse – The Hearty Fish Soup

Bouillabaisse is a hearty Mediterranean fish stew that was invented in the port town of Marseilles. This gumbo is prepared from a variety of shell fish, cooked fish and vegetables. Some of the conventional kinds of  fish  used to make bouillabaisse are European conger, sea robin, turbot, scorpion fish, velvet crabs, sea urchins, monkfish, gilt head beams and spider crabs to name a few. Addition of vegetables like celery, tomatoes, potatoes, leeks and onions make this fish potage very filling. The distinguishing character of this soup is not the fish, but the aromatic spices like fennel, saffron and bay leaves which are used in its preparation and invest this consommé with a robust flavor.


The term bouillabaisse has been derived from the Provencal Occitan word ‘bolhabaissa’. Bolhabaissa is the amalgamation of two words – bolhir which means to boil and abaissar which means to simmer.

According to history, the Port town of Marseilles was founded by the Phoenicians and Greeks around 600 B.C. The Phoenicians and Greeks brought with them a hearty fish soup called ‘kakavia’ which is thought to be the precursor to bouillabaisse.

Serving Suggestions

Bouillabaisse is normally prepared for groups of no less than ten people. This soup has been created to be enjoyed by large groups of people. This potage is normally served with baguettes and rouille, which is a special type of mayonnaise made from saffron, garlic, olive oil and cayenne pepper.

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For The Broth

Onion Chopped Finely – 1 cup
Celery Chopped – ½ cup
Garlic -3 cloves
Bay Leaf – 1
Peppercorns – 8
Thyme – 2 sprigs
Fish Bones – 1 pound
White Wine – 1 cup
Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt and Pepper – To Taste

For The Bouillabaisse

Leeks Cut Thinly – 1 cup
Tomatoes (peeled, seeded and chopped) – 3 cups
Orange (juice and zest) – 1
Fennel Cut Thinly – 1 cup
Garlic Chopped – 2tbsp
Parsley Chopped Finely – 2tbsp
Saffron Threads – One Pinch
Salt and Pepper – To Taste
Assorted Fish like Scorpion Fish, Angler Fish, Sea Bass and Eel
Cleaned and Scaled – 2 pounds
Lobster- 1 Large
Shrimp (cleaned) – 1 pound
Mussels – ½ pound
Little Neck Clams – ½ pound


For The Broth

1. Take a large saucepan. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil.

2. Once the olive oil becomes hot add the sliced celery and chopped onions.

3. Add salt and pepper and sauté the ingredients for approximately 4 minutes.

4. Add the garlic cloves and continue cooking for another minute.

5. Now add the peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Sauté for about thirty seconds.

6. Finally add the fish bones, white wine and water and bring the liquid to boil.

7. Continue cooking the broth for approximately thirty minutes on low flame.

8. Remove the broth from the fire, strain it.

For The Bouillabaisse

1. Heat the prepared stock in large saucepan.

2. Add fennel, orange juice and zest, saffron, tomatoes, leeks, parsley and garlic to the broth and season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the lobster and the fish to the broth and cook for about seven minutes.

4. Now add mussels, shrimp and clams and cook for six minutes.

5. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Serve the bouillabaisse on a large serving dish with French baguette and rouille on the side.

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