Classic Bouillabaisse

Classic Bouillabaisse
★★★½   37 votes

A traditional fish stew filled with unbelievably rich and pleasurably complex flavors, Bouillabaisse is a hearty dish made of three or more types of fish and a mélange of herbs and spices. Served with an exquisite rouille sauce made of olive oil, egg, chili peppers, wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and breadcrumbs, this classic bouillabaisse recipe is surely unforgettable and best enjoyed with a large group of people together with a bottle (or bottles) of good Bordeaux, Burgundy or Provencal wine. Make bouillabaisse for friends or family and have one hell of a great time.

In this classic recipe, the broth is made with olive oil, onions, leeks, parsley, garlic, thyme, sage, saffron, bay leaf, orange, canned tomatoes, chicken stock, clam juice, peppercorns, fish trimmings, three or more types of fish, shrimps, potatoes, salt, and Swiss cheese. Just the list of ingredients alone will give you an idea how flavorful and aromatic this special soup is.

Pronounced as boo-ya-behs, bouillabaisse is a traditional dish that traces its origin in the port city of Marseille. The term comes from the Provencal word bolhabaissa, which in turn comes from two words: bolhir (to boil) and albaissar (to reduce), which are the two main methods used in creating the stew. The fish broth is the foundation of any true and delicious bouillabaisse. It is traditionally made with several fish varieties so that each adds its own flavor and come into harmony as it is slowly cooked for long hours.

For the best results, use the freshest fish available in your local area. Ideally, choose lean fish with a firm white flesh. Mediterranean fish like monkfish, scorpion fish, sea robin, and conger eel are of course preferable if they are available. Other good options for making a scrumptious fish stew include Atlantic Pollock, Black rockfish, Barramundi, black snapper or clack rock cod, black sea bass, halibut, pacific cod, porgy, striped bass, sablefish, or pacific lingcod.

8 to 10

10-15 min

2 hours

Difficulty Level



  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 2 large onions, chopped

  • 4 medium leeks (whites parts only), chopped

  • 1.2 cup lightly packed chopped fresh parsley

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves

  • ½ teaspoon sage

  • 1/16 teaspoon ground saffron

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 orange

  • 2 lbs. canned tomatoes

  • 28 oz. chicken stock

  • 16 oz. clam juice

  • 2 cups water

  • 10 black peppercorns

  • 4 lbs. fish trimmings (tails, heads, fins, and bones)

  • 4 lbs. fish (3 or more types; salmon, halibut, sole, turbot, rockfish, trout, etc.)

  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, shelled and deveined

  • 3 lbs. hot, boiled, small thin-skinned potatoes

  • Salt

  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

  • For the Rouille:

  • 1 egg

  • 3 tablespoons wine vinegar

  • 2 small dried hot chiles

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon fine dry bread crumbs

  • 1 cup olive oil

Preparation Instructions


Begin by preparing the Rouille: In a food processor or blender, blend the egg, wine vinegar, chiles, garlic, salt, and bread crumbs. Turn the machine to high and little by little add the 1 cup of oil. Pulse until well blended. Cover and refrigerate. In a large pot placed over medium high heat, pour the ½ cup of oil. Add the onions, leeks, parsley, and garlic and sauté until onions are tender.


Add the thyme, sage, saffron, and bay leaf. Using a vegetable peeler, peel a 4 in. strip of peel off the orange. Add this to the onion mixture. Add the tomatoes and their juices. Add the stock, clam juice, water, peppercorns, and fish trimmings.


Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 1 hour. Strain the soup, pressing the vegetables and fish trimmings to remove as much liquid from them as possible. Discard the vegetables and fish trimmings or use them to make fish stock another day. Pour the broth back into the large pot and bring to a simmer.


Add the thickest fish, followed by the thinner fish and shrimp. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer gently until fish easily flakes. Remove the pot from the stove. Remove the fish from the pot with a slotted spatula.


Place on a platter, alongside the potatoes. Place the pot back on the stove and bring the broth to a boil. Season. Serve the broth sprinkled with cheese. Serve Rouille on the side to spoon over the fish, potatoes, and broth.