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Bouillabaisse

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Serves ten.

  • by Paul Bertolli from Fine Cooking
    Issue 25

For this classic seafood stew you can use whatever combination of fish and shellfish you like, provided you don’t include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, or tuna.

  • 4 lb. mixed filleted, skinned fish, such as Pacific rockfish, monkfish, sea bass, or halibut   
  • Salt (use sea salt if possible)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, chopped
  • 1 large bulb fennel, chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Pinch saffron (about 20 threads)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large ripe tomatoes (or one 28-oz. can tomatoes), peeled, seeded, and chopped; juice strained and reserved
  • 4 quarts Fish Stock
  • 1 lb. small clams, rinsed
  • 1 lb. small mussels, scrubbed and rinsed 
  • 3/4 lb. thin-fleshed squid, cleaned and cut into ringlets
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 10 slices sourdough bread, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic
  • 1 recipe Rouille 

Locate the bones running vertically down the rockfish and other fish and make a cut on either side of the bones and take them out; use them for the stock, if you like. Cut all the fish fillets into 2- to 3-inch pieces, keeping the different varieties of fish separate. Sprinkle them with salt and toss them gently to distribute the salt; set aside.

Warm 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large soup pot; add the leeks, fennel, potatoes, saffron, bay leaves, thyme, 1 Tbs. salt, and a little freshly ground pepper. Stir the mixture well and cook slowly over medium-low heat until the leeks are completely soft but not browned and the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes, strained tomato juice, and fish stock. Taste and add more salt as needed. Bring to a rapid simmer.

Add the fish and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil to the simmering broth, raise the heat to high, and boil for about 10 minutes. Next add the clams and mussels and cook for another 5 minutes. In the last minute, add the squid and parsley. Taste and add salt if needed. Remove the soup from the heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes.

Put a slice of the toasted garlic bread in the bottom of wide-rimmed serving bowls and ladle the soup on top. Serve with a spoonful of the rouille.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 740; Fat (g): 35; Fat Calories (kcal): 320; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 59; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 23; Carbohydrates (g): 39; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): 1040; Cholesterol (mg): 170; Fiber (g): 5;

Photo: Scott Phillips

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