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Horizontal top-down image of a hearty fish soup in a white bowl on a gray napkin.

French Bouillabaisse

  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x


This bouillabaisse features fish, mussels, and lobster in a tomatoey broth. Prepare for this Provençal seafood stew to change your life.


  • 2 cups cubed day-old bread (about 4 ounces)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 teaspoon harissa paste
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion (about 1/2 small)
  • 1/2 cup chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (about 2 large)
  • 1/4 cup sliced fennel (about 1 small bulb), fronds reserved and chopped for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot (about 1 medium)
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 3 2-inch-wide strips orange peel
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups fish or seafood stock
  • 2 cups roughly chopped tomatoes (from 2-3 large tomatoes, or canned)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless white fish filets, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound jumbo shrimp (21/25 count) in shells
  • 1/2 pound small hard-shelled clams (such as littlenecks), scrubbed
  • 1/2 pound mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
  • 1/2 pound roughly chopped raw lobster meat
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a half-size baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add the bread cubes to a large bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and 1 clove of minced garlic. Toss until the cubes are thoroughly coated, then arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake, tossing once halfway through, until the croutons are golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the harissa paste and mayonnaise together until combined thoroughly to make a quick rouille. Set aside.
  4. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepot or a Dutch oven, add the remaining oil and place the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, fennel, carrot, and potatoes. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the veggies begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Season with the remaining salt and pepper. 
  5. Add the remaining minced garlic, saffron, orange peel, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook for an additional minute. Stir in the tomato paste to coat the vegetables, and cook for 1 more minute. Deglaze the pan with the fish stock and tomatoes, scraping the bottom as you pour.
  6. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook until it’s slightly thickened and the potatoes are almost fork-tender, about 8-10 minutes. Reduce the heat to simmer.
  7. Stir in the thickest pieces of fish, the clams, and the shrimp, and cover the pot. Simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the mussels, lobster, and remaining pieces of fish. Cover and simmer until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Season the broth to taste with additional salt if necessary. Remove the bay leaves, orange peel, and thyme sprigs.
  8. Divide the bouillabaisse among bowls. Garnish with a spoonful of the rouille, the reserved fennel fronds, parsley, thyme, and croutons.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Stew
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: French

Keywords: French, soup, stew, bouillabaisse, seafood, tomato, lobster, mussel, fish