British Bouillabaisse Recipe

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Servings: 6


  • Make approx. 3.4litres/6pints
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lrg fennel, roughly minced
  • 2 x celery sticks, finely sliced
  • 2 lrg onions or possibly 8 shallots, finely sliced
  • 4 x carrots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 3 clv garlic, sliced
  • 1 sm dry red chilli
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed generous healthy pinch of saffron few sprigs of fresh basil few sprigs of fresh tarragon
  • 200 ml /7floz Pernod
  • 1/2 bot white wine
  • 4 x frzn red mullets, defrosted and minced, including head and tail and all bones
  • 400 gm tin of tomatoes, or possibly
  • 2 x tins for extra tomato flavour, or possibly
  • 12 x fresh over ripe tomatoes, minced for fresher flavour
  • 1 x juice of 1 orange
  • 3 x pcs of orange zest
  • 3 2/5 lt Fish Stock salt and cayenne pepper
  • 350 gm cod fillet, cut into 50g/2oz pcs butter
  • 450 gm lemon sole, filleted and skinned
  • 18 x headless raw king prawns, defrosted if frzn, tail left on
  • 350 gm sea bass fillet seasoned flour (optional) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 x celery sticks, finely shredded
  • 1 med fennel, finely shredded
  • 1 x leek, finely shredded
  • 1 1/5 lt /2pints Red-mullet Base
  • 3 x tomatoes, preferably plum, blanched and cut into 5mm strips
  • 1 Tbsp. minced flatleaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. 1cm/ in fresh chive sticks
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh chervil Salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 12 x thick slices of French bread extra virgin olive oil for brushing
  • 4 lrg fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 175 gm Cheddar cheese, grated


  1. MethodPreparation Time 10 to 30 minsCooking Time 1 to 2 hours
  2. 1. Make the soup base first. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan. Add in the fennel, celery, onions, carrots and garlic. Cook on a gentle heat for 15-20 min, with a lid on, till the vegetables have softened. Add in the spices, saffron, herbs and Pernod and reduce by half. The red mullet pcs (and bones if using), tomatoes, orange juice, zest and stock or possibly water can now all be added. Bring to the simmer and cook for 45 min.
  3. 2. Once cooked, remove from the heat and rest for 15 min before liquidizing and straining through a sieve, extract all the juices. For a smooth, non-grainy finish, also strain through a very fine sieve. The mullet soup base is now made, carrying quite a strong, sweet fish flavour. This can be served as it is or possibly lightly creamed and offered with bread croutons flavoured with garlic and Parmesan cheese. Or possibly freeze some or possibly all of the soup for future use. Check for seasoning before serving.
  4. 3. To make the soup, first preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. As discussed in the introduction, choose any fish you like. I've selected four which work very well. These can all be steamed or possibly poached; however, I prefer to pan-fry or possibly grill sea bass or possibly red mullet. These add in another texture to the dish. The sole will provide two small and two large flat fillets. Split the two large ones diagonally in half and then fold all six in half, creating looped fillets. Run a knife down the back of each prawn to remove the black vein. Place the cod, sole and prawns in the dish. Season with salt, add in a knob of butter and 100ml/3 fl ounce of water. Cover with a lid, bring to a soft simmer and cook in the preheated oven for 2-3 min, till just hard to the touch. Remove from the oven.
  5. 4. The sea bass or possibly red mullet fillets, divided into six portions, can be lightly dusted, on the skin side, in flour seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper and brushed with butter before pan-frying skin-side down for a few min till crispy. Turn over and cook for a further minute.
  6. 5. To finish the soup, hot 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, adding the celery and fennel. Cook for a few min without colouring till beginning to soften slightly. Add in the shredded leek and continue to cook for 1 minute. While the vegetables are cooking, the red-mullet base can be re-heated, poured on to the vegetables and returned to the simmer. Add in a knob of butter, check for seasoning, flavour with the lemon juice and stir in the tomatoes and herbs.
  7. 6. To make the croutons, brush the French bread slices on each side with extra virgin olive oil. Toast till crisp and golden. These can also be baked in a medium oven for a crispier finish. Mix the minced sage leaves with the Cheddar and divide between the 12 toasts. Now simply gratinate under a warm grill, melting the Cheddar over the toasts.
  8. 7. The complete dish is now ready to be served, dividing the fish portions between bowls and spooning the soup over. This can be finished with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil, offering the croutons separately.
  9. Notes:Frzn red mullet fillets are best used for the soup base. These provide sufficient flavour and extra texture for the soup, and also cost a lot less than fresh. Classic fish soups are generally offered from one large pot on the table. It's up to you, the eater, to help yourself to the `fruits of the sea' available. If you wish to serve in this manner, re-heat the mullet base and continue as per the recipe with the fennel and celery. Once softened, add in the leeks and all the fish. Simmer very gently for 2 min before finishing with the butter, herbs and tomatoes. Trickle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.


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