Bouillabaise (the short version)

There are two ways to make bouillabaise, the traditional way and the lazy way… actually you really should do it the traditional way because the flavour is worth it.  HOWEVER. I am very often lazy. This is my cheat method.

Traditionally the soup is served separate to the fish. Seriously. Who can buggered with that?


  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped (keep the tops for garnishing)
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato paste
  • 2 – 3l fish stock (not supermarket stock unless you REALLY have to. Your fish shop will have some fresh stock which is infinitely better)
  • sea salt
  • 500g (at least) large prawns
  • 500g mussels
  • 500g vongole or clams
  • 1Kg non-oily white fish (snapper, red mullet, flathead, grouper)
  • 500g oily white fish (kingfish, skate, tommy ruffs)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 800g tin, crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Pinches of Saffron
  • 1½ tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ cup Pernod
  • cracked Pepper
  • 2 oranges, zested
  • 1 bunch parsley stalks
There are two approaches.
(1) as per below or
(2) use twice as much veg.  Chop half chunky and half REALLY finely.  Add the chunky half at the beginning and strain as per below.  Then add the finely chopped stuff AFTER the strain so that you have lovely veg in your soup.  I favour method 2 for weeknights and method 1 for entertaining.
  1. Saute the vegetables in a little oil till slightly softened.
  2. Add the garlic and saute till fragrant
  3. Add tomato paste and fennel seeds then cook out for about 30 seconds or so
  4. Add the pernod and allow the alcohol to burn off
  5. Add stock, bay leaves, salt, pepper, tomatoes, orange, olive oil to the pan
  6. Cook on low for about 1-1/2 hours
  7. Strain the soup to remove all solid objects
  8. Soak the saffron in hot water for about a minute then drop the whole lot into the soup
  9. Add the seafood  in order of cooking time (mussels first then vongole, oily fish, prawns & white fish)
  10. Cook for a further couple of minutes, till the seafood is ready
  11. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of fennel tops if you still have them, some crusty bread and a rouille (optional)
Serves: 4 greedy people

One thought on “Bouillabaise (the short version)

  1. Pingback: Rouille (french mayonaise-style sauce for seafood stews) « Bite Me

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s