Bouillabaisse Soup

25 Sep

(serves 8 )
The ‘authentic’ Bouillabaisse is meant to be a meal in itself. This however is just a recipe for a soup, hence it is called Bouillabaisse Soup. It may not be a true bouillabaisse but this recipe is much much faster than making the real thing, because it allows you to bypass hours of simmering. The important thing is – it tastes just as good.


  1. Lobster (2 halves)
  2. Tiger Prawns with heads (8)
  3. Salmon (300g)
  4. Mussles in-shell (8)
  5. Smoked Clams (2 tins)
  6. Cream of Tomato soup (2 cans).
  7. Leek (large, 1 stalk)
  8. Garlic (1 bulb = 12 cloves)
  9. Bicarbonate of Soda
  10. Orange Peel
  11. Chopped Basil
  12. Saffron Powder
  13. Coriander Powder
  14. Cognac


  1. Into a large bowl, empty the 2 cans of tomato soup. Add 1t (flat) of bicarbonate of soda to the condensed soup and stir every few minutes for a quarter of an hour. Fine bubbles will foam up as you stir, this is normal. Allow to sit for a further 15 minutes. Eventually the tomato mixture will darken to a deep red, forming the rich base for your bouillabaisse.
  2. While you wait, prepare some fish stock by dissolving 2 fish stock cubes (or 4T of  Hon Dashi pellets) in a cup of hot water. Julienne the white of the leek into thin rings. Peel a garlic bulb. Leave half of the garlic as cloves and put the other half through a garlic press to mince it.
  3. Pan fry in some oil your leek rings and the garlic bulbs until the leek softens. Then add the salmon. When the salmon is cooked, check where you think there might be bones (usually near the belly cavity) and remove them. For this soup I like to have all my fish mashed into flakes, but that’s up to you. If you want some whole fish pieces, substitute part of the salmon with cod, and add it right at the end.
  4. Finally add the cup of fish stock to deglaze and pour everything into a big pot. Next add the tomato mixture to the pot, followed by a further 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and add the rest of the seafood.
  5. Also add 1t of orange zest (grated peel), 1t of saffron powder, 1t of powdered coriander seed, the minced garlic and simmer for half an hour and leave covered until its time to serve.
  6. Before serving, reboil and then add 2T of cognac, flavour with salt and pepper to taste. I will normally de-shelled the prawns and lobster after they have been boiled in the bouillabaisse, shred the meat then put it back into the soup, leaving the lobster claws and prawn heads as decorative pieces. You can leave them as they are if you are lazy. In each soup dish, arrange a few pieces of seafood in a manner pleasing to the eye and then at the table, dish on the soup in front of your guests and finish off with a generous garnishing of chopped basil (or mint).


  • A whole long story accompanies any bouillabaisse recipe, so here goes….Bouillabaisse is a seafood stew from the Mediterranean which the French, particularly those from Marseille, have laid claim to. In English, I’m told bouillabaisse means to boil and simmer, which is how the dish is made. End of story.
  • Purists will insist on using 10 kinds of fish, fennel seeds instead of coriander, Pernod instead of cognac, saffron threads instead of saffron powder etc. Just admit to them this is a fake bouillabaisse. In fact, to save yourself some trouble, never discuss the preparation of your bouillabaisse soup.
  • Traditionally when you are served bouillabaisse, it comes with bread. It is also ‘proper’ to serve the seafood separately to be eaten with ‘rouille’, which is just a fancy name for herbed mayonnaise. Don’t bother if you are not in France (oh heaven forbid if someday this gets translated into French). This is just a soup, and over-boiled seafood never tastes good anyway.
  • The key shortcut of this recipe is the use of canned tomato soup and bicarbonate of soda. It simulates hours of simmering. If you’re unfamiliar with bicarbonate of soda, look here.
  • You can substitute or add any kind of seafood, fresh, frozen or canned, no one will be able to tell the difference after such heavy boiling. I have tried using frozen oysters, and they fit well. Just make sure there is always a generous combination of fish, crustaceans, and shell fish.
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Posted by on September 25, 2009 in French, Recipe, Seafood, Soups


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