Classic Bouillabaisse

While my daughter was here last month, she asked if we could make bouillabaisse; she'd always wanted to. We sat down, perused my cookbooks and finally surfaced with a recipe from Eric Ripert's Avec Eric

It's definitely a classic. Tracy made the rouille first and refrigerated it. A couple days later, we bought our fresh seafood, made the fish stock in the morning and the bouillabaisse for dinner. It was fun and fabulous, but..... we were disappointed with the rouille....not nearly flavorful enough. It lacked pizzazz.  So the next day, we punched it up with a few additions and ate it for lunch. Huge improvement. I've made our corrections in the recipe below.

Below, the bouillabaisse was served in a large family style dish with a heaping spoonful of Eric's rouille in the middle. The second photo was taken the next day, after we made our changes to the rouille and this time we mixed it into our individual soup bowls. 

Adapted from Avec Eric by Eric Ripert


For the bouquet garni
3 Italian parsley sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1  1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns

For the bouillabaisse:

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds fish bones and parts from white-fleshed fish such as halibut or monkfish
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup Pernod
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small fennel bulb, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup dry white wine
large pinch saffron threads
fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
12 small new potatoes, peeled and cut in half
1 small leek, tender green parts only, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup diced fennel
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 pound firm white fish filet such as monkfish or halibut, cut in 2 inch chunks
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound mussels and/or clams, scrubbed, soaked and mussels debearded
country white bread
rouille (recipe follows)


Wrap the parsley, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns in some cheesecloth and tie. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the fish bones and parts and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and saute another minute or so. Delaze with the Pernod and add the onion, celery, fennel and garlic and saute until the vegetables are soft, stirring often, for 10 minutes.
Add the diced tomato, wine and saffron and enough water to cover the ingredients. (about 5 cups) Add the sachet and cook for about half an hour. Remove the sachet and any large fish bones and season with salt and pepper.
With an emersion blender (I did mine in my processor) puree the soup and then strain through a fine mesh seive.
Place the soup in a medium pot over medium heat and add the potatoes, leek, fennel and onion and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the clams and simmer another 5 minutes. Season the fish and shrimp with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the bouillbaise and cook until they turn pink. A couple minutes. Add the fish along with the mussels and simmer until the fish is barely cooked and the mussels are opened.
Serve the bouillbaise over toasted country bread with the rouille. Serves 4.

The Rouille:


2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 roasted and peeled red pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
6 tablespoons canola oil
6 tablespoons olive oil
large pinch of cayenne pepper (more to taste, or use harissa)


Combine the water and saffron threads and allow to soak until the saffron threads are moist, about 5 minutes or so.
Place the saffron mixture along with the egg yolks, lemon juice and garlic in a blender. Season with salt and pepper and blend about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add the canola and olive oils slowly, creating a thick emulsion.
Remove from blender, add the red pepper, parsley and cayenne to taste. Transfer to a sealed container and keep refrigerated for up to a week.



  1. It looks fabulous!



  2. I haven't made bouillabaise in so long. Dr Lostpast is fish fussy and doesn't go for the combo. Sadly, it is not a dish to make for yourself! I miss it though.. since it's a great dish. I can't imagine rouille not being flavorful.. seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? It's all about that last bang of rich flavor for the soup.... what was Eric thinking??
    Oh well, one day I'll make it again!!

  3. It has been a long time since I've eaten this tasty dish and have never made it. I'm inspired to do so because your's looks delicious and the days are growing cooler.


  4. What fun! I've never made bouillabaisse, but it looks fantastic. So glad you had a partner in crime to make it a fun project - that's what I need to get something like this started.

  5. I'm so glad to see you doctored up this dish into something delicious! I've never made a bouillabaisse before but it looks like some serious comfort food!

  6. I'm pretty sure I'll never make this. The Knight won't eat most of the ingredients, and it's hardly a dish for one. Hrmph. It looks fabulous!!

  7. Bouillabaisse is something I've never eaten, much less made, although the recipe ingredients remind me very much of Paella, which I love. I need to spread my culinary wings and try this one day. Thank you for your review and adaptations!

  8. Looks fantastic! And crusty bread to soak up those delicious juices.

  9. oh this sounds so incredible! i've never had a soup like this, but i love the way it looks!

  10. mmmm! Barbara what lovely and yumm look this plate!! yumm gloria

  11. Oh my goodness, Barbara! You two created a memorable meal in this golden bowl of goodness. I adore Bouillabaise. It's been waaaay to long since I've indulged.

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  12. THIS IS MY FAVORITE!!!!! And I love the San Francisco version, CIOPPINO!!!! HI BARBARA! Thank you for visiting me! These days back to the classroom are crazy, so I am in quite a hurry here, but I just wanted to stop by and see you. HAVE A WONDERFUL EVENING! Anita

  13. An all time favorite and this recipe looks so delish Barbara!


    Art by Karena

    I have a fabulous Giveaway from Interieurs I hope you will come and join!

  14. Bouillabaisse! My favorite fish stew...always I get it when I see in the menu...unfortunately my husband does not care for it...yours sounds and looks delicious.
    Hope you have a great week ahead Barbara :-)

  15. One of my fave dishes to savor. It's quite a bit of work -- but worth every bit of it. ;)

  16. This looks absolutely amazing! I'm going to have to give this a try soon!

  17. What a beautiful classic dish Barbara! A shame about the original rouille but sounds like you definitely saved it and the rest looks sublime :)

  18. Wow, can I come over for lunch, that looks just stunning! I have never made this, I hear its a real effort, but your pictures look like it is totally worth it.
    *kisses* HH

  19. What a fabulous dish! I've never tried making this at home and will give it a try one of these days. Bookmarked!

  20. Barbara, I have never made bouillabaise, and your post is indeed inspiration. Thanks for testing and tweaking the rouille--which is key to the dish. Love the saffron--both for its distinct taste and color.

  21. Barbara I bet it was wonderful to spend the days cooking with your daughter. This looks so good! I'm sure made all the better by the two of you enjoying each other's company.

    I was shocked to find that your daughter was so close to the disaster on 9/11. What a scare that must have been for her and you as her mom. The anniversary of it every year must bring it all back in her mind. That would be so hard. I know how hard it is for me to just get through the day and I was far from it. I mourn for those lost to this day.
    I hope you have a wonderful day!
    sending hugs...

  22. barb -- you crush me with these, my friend. parfait for a crisp fall day (are these ingredients in season then?), n'est pas?

    btw, this is a great series! (i still have 5 more to go on my "eleven in '11" series!)

  23. Oooh... Beautiful post, Barbara! This gorgeous dish looks simply irresistible :) I have never made bouillabaisse--So this goes on my list to try!

    Hugs <3


  24. Wow looks Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  25. You can't go out to eat in the south of France without seeing people digging into their bouillabaisse! Makes me want to go back right now *sigh*.

  26. Wow! That looks sooooo good,Barbara!Delicious and comforting dish.

  27. I keep thinking about bouillabaisse lately. Now, I'm convinced I need to try making it. All the seafood in it looks fantastic!

  28. i've never had boullibase before, but this looks outstanding, YUMMY!

  29. Sounds and looks fantastic, and what a nice joint effort with your daughter!

  30. I love bouillabaisse, but have never made it myself. Your recipe looks fantastic, I'm bookmarking it for the cooler weather.

  31. A bouillabaisse is one dish I never fiddled with thinking I would leave it to the folks in the south of France to mess with; yours looks fabulous, down to the last detail. I am tempted to make it now~ (we use the same technique in our classic fish and rice dish, browning the fish bones and heads in oil to give the stock flavor)

  32. Looks beautiful Barbara. I've never tried it or even thought about making it.

  33. That looks gorgeous. Good thing you tried again!

  34. I hate when things lack pizzazz! This sure does look scrumptious!

  35. Hi Barbara,

    How lovely that you and your daughter were able to cook together.
    This looks so good and thanks for sharing the recipe.
    I remember watching Julia Child's cooking show, from about the 1970's and she went to the fish market and then cooked up a Bouillabaisse.

    Happy weekend

  36. regardless of my dislike of fish and all things seafoody, i'm always impressed by a batch o' bouillabaisse. also, i'm kinda in love with eric ripert. :)

  37. This look soooo amazing. I too have a few recipes that I have been wanting to do for ages. Hmmm...

  38. What??? How had I missed this??!!!
    You are a genius Barbara! I have never made that and <i think it wouldn't look that good!

  39. I love their products and their recipes--have used one of their turkey dressing recipes for years. Silver Palate Oatmeal (the product, not the recipe) even made me like oatmeal.

    I have their lightened and healthier cookbooks, too, but I confess that it's the first two that I reach for most often.

  40. This sounds so delicious! I LOVE bouillabaisse but have never had the guts to make it.



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