Soup Up My Soup

Food and Stuff

1 Comment

Oh, Snap! – Red Snapper and Scallop-based Bouillabaisse

Dear Soup Development Team,

Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille.

In theory, it’s a simple stew created by Marseille fisherman using fish that were too bony to serve in restaurants. In practice, it’s an expensive main course in most French Bistros, probably due to the level of complexity and cost in making it, especially in landlocked areas where fish is more expensive.

Although purists will claim that a true Bouillabaisse can’t be made too far from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and I’m using a fish from the Gulf of Mexico, this is a pretty faithful version of the classic fish stew.

You can put bouillabaisse versions into two buckets, one with a clear broth and one with a pureed  soup base. This is the latter. It tastes and looks better to do it this way in my opinion. Both are great though.

Oh, Snap! Bouillabaisse

Serves Four 


Red Snapper, 1
scallops, 1 pound

olive oil, 1.5 tablespoons
garlic, 4 cloves chopped
fennel Bulb, 1/2 chopped (or 1/2 tsp of fennel seed)
onion, 1 coarsely chopped
marjoram, 2/3 tsp dried or 4 fresh sprig
Orange Zest, from 1/2 orange
Fish bones

Soup Base
leeks, 2 finely chopped
Tomatoes, 5 peeled, seeded, and chopped
Pernod/Ricard liquor, 1/8 cup
saffron, a pinch

water, 3 tablespoons
coarse fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a baguette, crust removed), 3/4 cup
garlic cloves, 3
coarse sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon
cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon
extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons


Preparing the fish and prepping the bones

Debone the fish (or if the fishmonger is kind enough to do it for you, ask him to put the bones and head in a bag and to save for you), cover them in cold water for 30-45 minutes, changing the water at least twice. This is an important step before making the broth.

Making the rouille

Use this downtime to make rouille. Pour water over bread crumbs in a bowl. Mash garlic to a paste with sea salt and cayenne using a mortar and pestle or a small food chopper. Add moistened bread crumbs and mash into garlic paste. Add oil in a slow stream, mixing until combined well.

Making the Stock

Put 1.5 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot on low heat, add the fish stock ingredients except for bones and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally

Add the bones, cook for another 10 minutes, then add enough water to cover, approximately 4 cups. cook for about half an hour

Strain product through a medium strainer and reserve the liquid. This is the stock.

Making the Soup Base

Add another 1.5 tablespoons of oil, and cook the leeks for about 10 minutes on low heat

Add the rest of the soup base ingredients, cook for another 10 minutes

Puree the product in a blender, adding salt and pepper to taste

Cooking the fish and scallops 

Lay out the fillets of Red Snapper and about 1/2 pound of scallops in a pan on low heat

Ladle enough of the soup base over the fish and scallops until they are covered, cook for 5 minutes. You can just pan fry the fish and scallops by themselves  as well without cooking in the soup base.


Put the cooked fish and scallops into bowls. Ladle the soup mixture over top, and then spoon out a few tablespoons of the rouille on top of the soup, after you’ve put a bit of the soup mixture in to thin it out a little. Serve immediately with a baguette.