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Classic Bouillabaisse

Chef Julia Sullivan shares her take on a French classic and shows us why the Dutch Oven is a secret weapon when it comes not only soup but shellfish too.

By Julia Sullivan
Jan 27, 2022
60 Minutes
8 - 10 Servings

Bouillabaisse is a classic French stew that hails from the port city of Marseille. It is a vehicle for seafood first and foremost but it is also defined by its flavor-packed broth, enhanced with saffron, which gives the broth its signature orange hue.

Bouillabaisse is served with sliced bread slathered in rouille, a thick, emulsified sauce similar to aioli. Picture the best garlic bread you’ve never had and you’re pretty close.

Chef Julia Sullivan of Nashville’s Henrietta Red loves our Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven for this recipe, saying “you don't have to constantly stir it because it has a nice heavy bottom and a nice heavy lid. You add the shellfish [and then] you can kind of steam things”.

Think of this as a Choose Your Own Adventure, seafood edition. Chef Sullivan uses shrimp, scallops, clams, and mussels, but you could easily  substitute diced fresh fish or even squid. Garnish the finished soup with some rouille topped sourdough, and you have the star of your next dinner party.

This recipe yields 4 quarts, so you should have more than enough to feed a crowd.

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Classic Bouillabaisse

Chef Julia Sullivan shares her take on a French classic and shows us why the Dutch Oven is a secret weapon when it comes not only soup but shellfish too.

Julia Sullivan

60 Minutes
8 - 10 Servings
  • For the Bouillabaisse:
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed for the bread
  • 1 yellow onion, small dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks of celery, small dice
  • 2 carrots, peeled, small dice
  • 2 fennel bulbs, small dice, fronds reserved
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
  • 10 fingerling potatoes, cut lengthwise, then crosswise to in half moons
  • 1 quart seafood stock
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 8 slices of sourdough bread
  • 12 shrimp deveined and tails removed
  • 20 littleneck clams, rinsed
  • 20 mussels, rinsed and beards removed
  • 8 scallops, rinsed, feet removed, and quartered
  • 1/4 cup Pernod
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup basil, chiffonade for garnish
  • 1/4 cup fennel fronds, finely chopped for garnish
  • For the Rouille:
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 roasted red bell pepper, peeled and seeds removed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Heat your Dutch Oven over medium heat. When hot, cover the bottom with olive oil and allow the oil to heat up.


    Add onion and garlic and sweat until fragrant, making sure they don’t pick up too much color, about 3-5 minutes. Then add celery, carrot, fennel, and saffron and continue sweating until fragrant but not soft, 2-3 minutes.


    Add in potatoes, stock, and crushed tomatoes, stirring to combine.


    Turn the heat down to a simmer and reduce until thickened, stirring occasionally. This should take about 20-30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


    While the soup is simmering, preheat your oven to 400F. Brush your bread with olive oil and toast in the oven on a Sheet Pan until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes.


    Next, prepare rouille by combining garlic, roasted red pepper, egg yolk, lemon juice, saffron, and salt in a food processor or blender.


    Blend until smooth, then add the olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified. Season to taste. The rouille will make about 2 cups. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 4 days.


    When the soup has thickened to stew consistency, add the shrimp, followed by the clams and mussels.


    Cook until the clams and mussels are opened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the scallops and turn off the heat. Stir in Pernod and adjust seasoning to taste.


    Ladle bouillabaisse into Entrée Bowls and garnish with basil and fennel fronds. Spread the Rouille on your toasted bread and serve with the bouillabaisse.

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