Bouillabaisse for the Holidays

This is a soup to impress your guests. It is not a cheap soup ingredient wise. However with Thanks-annukah just around the corner (or is it Chanukiving) this year why not go all out for friends and family, while still cooking healthy?

This recipe uses my Fish Fumet and a whole lot of fish and shellfish and spices and herbs. It is a decadent soup with many layers of incredible flavor that just happens to be chock-full of good for you ingredients. This is a large recipe, with 10 servings, so adjust accordingly per your needs. It will do nicely for a meal at home, and will freeze well.

For the Bouillabaisse stock you will need:

  • 2 Tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot (peeled)
  • 2 each large stalks celery chopped (not the whole thing, just 2 individual stalks)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 Tablespoon anise seed, ground
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 quarts Fish Fumet
  • 14 ounces canned tomatoes, drained and chopped (I like the tomatoes in the cardboard cartons from Italy)
  • 8 ounces dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

The rest of the ingredients:

  • 10 littleneck clams, scrubbed (or whatever clams you find in your region)
  • 10 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 2 1/2 ounces lobster meat, cubed
  • 8 ounces shrimp (16/20 count size), peeled and de-veined
  • 8 ounces salmon fillet, cubed
  • 4 ounces scallops, muscle tabs removed
  • 4 ounces perch fillet, cubed (or Red snapper)
  • 4 ounces halibut fillet, cubed (or cod)
  • 4 ounces sea bass fillet, cubed (or grouper)
  • 4 ounces sole fillet, cubed (or John Dory)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped, fresh, parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped tarragon
  • sea salt as needed

Begin by preparing the stock by heating the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, fennel, anise, parsley, orange zest, and bay leaves. Sweat the mixture until the onions are turning translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 45 minutes, and strain.

Rinse the pot and return the strained Bouillabaisse stock to the pot. Bring to a boil. Add the clams and the mussels. When their shells open, remove from the stock and reserve.

Lower the stock to a simmer and add the remaining fish. Simmer until the fish is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Do not allow this to boil as it may break apart the tender fish.

Return the clams, mussels and lobster to the bouillabaisse. Simmer to heat through. Check for saltiness and add sea salt if needed.

To Serve 10-15 people depending.

Use a 12 ounce ladle, or if you prefer less, an 8 ounce ladle will render more portions. Ladle the soup into bowls and arrange the seafood in each bowl and garnish with the remaining parsley and tarragon.

About Virginia McIlwain

Virginia is a culinary school graduate. She interned in Dublin, Ireland at a Michelin star French-Irish restaurant. She has cooked professionally in Minneapolis, MN, Dallas, TX, and Boston, MA.

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