A traditional Provençal soup originating from Marseille, Bouillabaisse is as classic a French recipe as they come.  We’ve simplified the serving procedure; in Marseille, the broth is served in soup bowls with slices of bread or croutons topped with rouille, then the fish is served separately on a platter.  However you choose to serve this, we hope you heartily enjoy it!



for croutons

  • 12 to 16 (½ inch thick) baguette slices
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, halved

for Rouille:

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ¾ cup coarse fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a baguette, crust removed)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon Cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

for soup:

  • 1 (1-1 ¼ lb) live lobster
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb boiling potatoes
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fennel fronds (sometimes called anise)
  • Turkish bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 1 ½ tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 9 cups white fish stock
  • 3 lbs white fish fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ½ lb cockles or small hard-shelled clams, scrubbed
  • ½ lb cultivated mussels, scrubbed and any beards removed
  • ½ lb large shrimp in shells


Make croutons:

  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Arrange bread slices in 1 layer in shallow baking pan and brush both sides with oil.  Bake until crisp, about 30 minutes. Rub 1 side of each toast with a cut side of garlic.

Make Rouille:

  1. Pour water over bread crumbs in a bowl.  Mash garlic to a paste with sea salt and cayenne using a mortar and pestle.  Add moistened bread crumbs and mash into garlic paste.
  2. Add oil in a slow stream, mashing and stirring vigorously with pestle until combined well.

Make soup:

  1. Plunge lobster headfirst into a 6-8 quart pot of boiling water, then cook, covered, 2 minutes from time lobster enters water.  Transfer lobster with tongs to a colander and let stand until cool enough to handle.  Discard hot water in pot.  Put lobster in a shallow baking pan.  Twist off claws with knuckles from body, then crack claws with a mallet or rolling pin and separate claws from knuckles.  Halve body and tail lengthwise through shell with kitchen shears, then cut crosswise through shell into 2-inch pieces.  Reserve lobster juices that accumulate in baking pan.
  2. Cook tomatoes, onion, and garlic in oil in cleaned 6-8 quart pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened (5-7 minutes).  Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into ½ inch cubes.  Stir potatoes into tomatoes with fennel fronds, bay leaf, saffron, sea salt, and pepper.  Add stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are almost tender (8-10 minutes).
  3. Add thicker pieces of fish and cockles to soup and simmer, covered, for 2 minutes.  Stir in mussels, shrimp, lobster (including juices), and remaining fish and simmer, covered, until they are just cooked through and mussels open wide (about 5 minutes).
  4. Stir 3 tablespoons broth from soup into rouille until blended.
  5. Arrange 2 croutons in each of 6-8 deep soup bowls.  Carefully transfer fish and shellfish from soup to croutons with a slotted spoon, then ladle some broth with vegetables over seafood.
  6. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon rouille and serve remainder on the side

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