About four years ago, Tomato and her parents spent about a month floating around Europe before she met up with me and Lettuce at Oktoberfest, Take One. Recounting her adventures, she mentioned more than twice how wonderful the Bouillabaisse in Marsailles was and even sent me a postcard with the recipe printed on it.
Tomato’s Bouillabaisse from Marsailles
Since the postcard is completely in French, it was no use to me today, but it’s the thought that counts. Anyway, even though it originated as a simple Mediterranean fisherman’s soup, it is apparently a huge process and, when done right, takes hours to make. The time comes from first boiling up whole fish parts to make a rich fish stock, straining it, and then using that to make the rest of the soup. According to Tomato, the broth and seafood are served separately and then the eater puts them together. I didn’t do, nor did I strain out the vegetables so mine is chunkier than the traditional. There’s also a lot of flexibility in what kind of fish you use- I just bought what was on sale at the store- and also threw in shrimp, mussels and squid. I was hesitant to use the fennel since I’m not a fan of licorice, but I was happy to find that it mellowed out in the cooking process, so don’t fear the fennel since I think it’s that flavor that really makes this recipe stand out from any other tomato-based soup broth. With all the heavy foods that I’m gearing up to eat in the next few months, my body welcomed the lightness of tonight’s dinner.
My Bouillabaisse from Chicago
This recipe taken from Epicurious simplifies the process by using store bought stock if you don’t want to make your own. Another alternative to using seafood stock is to use clam juice- just beware the extra salt.
- 2 TB olive oil
- 2 heaping tsp chopped garlic
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 large pinch saffron
- 1 strip orange zest
- 1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes
- 6 cups seafood stock
- Enough seafood for 4-6 people. A combination of cod, halibut, snapper, mussels, shrimp- take your pick.
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- juice of one lemon
- 1- 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot. Add the garlic, onion and fennel and saute until soft 5-10 minutes.
- Add the saffron, orange zest, tomatoes, lemon juice and stock.
- Bring to a boil and cook the vegetables until tender, about 20 minutes and the liquid is reduced a bit.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add the fish (not shellfish) and cook about 4 minutes.
- Add any shellfish and cook about 4 minutes more.
- Cook until any shells are opened and shrimp are pink and curled.
- Serve from the pot with crusty bread and fresh parsley.