Bouillabaisse with Rouille, Sourdough Croutons and Samphire

Bouillabaisse is a Provencal fish stew. This is probably one of my favourite dishes and I love to spend an afternoon making it properly from scratch, however, don’t be put off, it can be done quicker I just like to take my time!

Contents (serves 4)

  • 1 x tinned tomatoes
  • 1 litre homemade fish stock
  • a pinch of saffron
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • mixed seafood- I used 1xgurnard, 1xbream and 1 large hake fillet, filleted and chopped into chunks. Reserve the fish bones/heads for the stock
  • 12-15 raw crevettes/prawns- peeled, shells retained
  • Handful of mussels
  • Bunch flat-leaf parsley, stalk reserved for stock
  • Samphire, steamed for about 3 minutes, to serve
  • Rouille, to serve

Soup base

  • 1 large bulb fennel
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • Small glass white wine/Pernod

Fish Stock

  • Bones, head and tails or the fish (about 2 carcases) or ask your fishmonger for some free scraps
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 sticks celery, halved
  • Stalks of flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • Salt
  • 2 litre cold water
  1. Start by making the fresh fish stock but if using a cube, skip to stage 4.
  2. Place all the ingredients into a large pan (except the salt) and cover with the water. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that comes to the surface and discard.
  3. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, but no longer. Season to taste and then strain and reserve the stock for use later.
  4. Now start on the soup base. Chop the vegetables and fry gently in some oil in a large pot with the fennel seeds, bay leaves and parsley. Cover with a cartouche (a round shaped piece of parchment) to prevent the vegetable catching and to help soften them. Reduce the heat and soften for 40 minutes.
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  6. After 40 minutes, increase the heat and caramelize the vegetables for a few minutes until tinged with brown. Add a small glass of white wine and simmer for 1 minute before adding the tomatoes, 600-800ml fish stock and a pinch of saffron and cayenne and season. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 1 hour. Meanwhile…….

A traditional bouillabaisse has a ‘tomatoey’ sauce flavour, however, I have adapted various recipes to bring out the best in the flavours I like best. Feel free to skip this step but it wholeheartedly adds a deep, rich, fishy punch to the soup base. Here I have made a prawn stock/reduction using the reserved shells.

  1. Fry the reserved prawn/crevette shells and heads in a little oil for about 5 minutes, until they turn a beautiful deep orange and release their juices
  2. Add a splash of wine and simmer for 1 minute, before adding a large spoonful of the simmering soup base and then top up with about 200ml of fish stock.
  3. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. After this time, strain and retain the prawn stock, season and discard the shells.


8.   After 1 hour, puree the soup with a hand blender (not too smooth, don’t worry if there are a few lumps) and add the prawn reduction (If not using, add fish stock to obtain your required consistency)

9.   Finally, add the chunks of fish and on a very low simmer, cook the fish for about 6-7 minutes before adding the shelled prawns and mussels. With a lid on, cook for a few minutes until the mussels are open and the prawns are cooked.

10.  Serve in deep, warmed bowls topped with samphire and scattered with chopped parsley and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. I devoured mine with the traditional mayonnaise- Rouille and giant sourdough croutons