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How To Make Bouillabaisse

Take a little culinary trip to the French Riviera by making a Bouillabaise. 

Warm, hearty and good for the soul – this seafood soup has been a staple dish along the sun-kissed shores of the French Riviera. It originated in the Ports along the coast of the Mediterranean, as fishermen came back and were left wondering what to do with the fish that were too bony or small to sell. The answer was to chuck them all into a pot and to create a rustic stew. And so, from humble beginnings, the Bouillabaisse was born.

Along the coast, there are plenty of variations of Bouillabaisse, but this recipe is for the classic Marseille formulation, which the dish is synonymous with.

This dish is a  fusion of the freshest fish from that region mixed with earthy flavours like fennel and onions, sweetness with a few tomatoes and a little kick with saffron, making it a simple broth that packs a whole lot of flavour. 

Take a look through the ingredients and follow the instructions to make the perfect Bouillabaisse.

Don’t forget to explore our range of Maison Perard Fish Soups, perfect for a quick and warming meal that also tastes delicious.

  • Prep time1 hour
  • Cook time1 hour
  • Servings6
  • Difficultymedium

Ingredients

  • Mixed Seafood (such as shrimp, mussels, clams or firm white fish)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Fennel Bulb, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 4 Cups Fish or Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Teaspoon Saffron Threads
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • Fresh Parsley, Chopped
  • Slices Of Crusty Bread (Optional)

Method

  1. Step one

    Prepare the Seafood: Start by preparing your seafood. If you have shrimp, peel and devein them. Then, thoroughly rinse all the seafood under cold water to ensure it's clean. Once done, set your seafood aside in the refrigerator. This keeps it fresh and chilled until it's time to add it to your Bouillabaisse.
  2. Step two

    Prepare the Veg: Before you start cooking, make sure that you prepare the vegetables. Peel the onion and chop it finely before setting it to one side. Then take your garlic and either crush it or chop it finely until it is minced. Finally, take the fennel and thinly slice it.
  3. Step three

    Sauté Aromatics: Next, grab a large pot or a Dutch oven and place it on your stove. Turn the heat to medium and pour in some olive oil. Once the oil is warm, add your chopped onion, minced garlic, and thinly sliced fennel to the pot. Sauté these ingredients, stirring occasionally, until they become soft and fragrant. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes. The goal here is to build a flavour foundation for your Bouillabaisse.
  4. Step four

    Build the Base: Now, it's time to start building the base of your Bouillabaisse. Dice your tomatoes and pour them into the pot, along with their juices. Stir everything together and let it cook for another 3-4 minutes. The tomatoes should start breaking down slightly, melding their flavours with the aromatics.
  5. Step five

    Add Broth and Seasonings: Pour in your choice of fish or vegetable broth, along with a cup of white wine. This will form the liquid base of your Bouillabaisse. Then, sprinkle in the saffron threads, a bay leaf, some dried thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Give the pot a good stir to ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Step six

    Simmer: Bring your Bouillabaisse base to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low. Allow it to simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes. This simmering time lets the flavours meld together beautifully, creating a rich and aromatic broth.
  7. Step seven

    Add Seafood: After the base has simmered, turn the heat up to medium-high. Begin adding your seafood, starting with the firmer fish as they take longer to cook. Gradually add the rest of the seafood, adjusting the timing based on how quickly each type cooks. Once all the seafood is in the pot, cover it and let everything simmer together until the seafood is just cooked through, which should take about 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook it.
  8. Step eight

    Serve: Finally, it's time to serve your Bouillabaisse. First, remove and discard the bay leaf. Then, carefully ladle the Bouillabaisse into serving bowls. Make sure to distribute the seafood evenly so each serving gets a good variety. Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley on top for garnish. Serve your Bouillabaisse hot. Optionally, you can serve it with slices of crusty bread on the side, perfect for soaking up the delicious, flavourful broth.