Recipe courtesy of David Rosengarten

Bouillabaisse in Three Courses

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  • Level: Easy
  • Yield: 6 servings.


For the broth:

For the toasts:

First course: Fish with Potatoes

Second course: Shellfish

Third course: Soup with Basil Toasts



  1. For the broth: Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stew pot. Cut off most of the green part of the leek, wash well, and chop into coarse pieces. Add the leek, the garlic and the red pepper to the olive oil. Stir. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have begun to soften. Add the basil, saffron, orange peel, and fennel seeds. Mix well with the leeks.
  2. Then add the fish pieces, saute for 2 minutes over high heat and boil for 1 minute. Add the wine and water, stir well, and simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally, skimming foam off the top of the pot. When done, select a clean pot that is large and wide. Strain the broth into the pot through a sieve, pressing on the solids in the sieve. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. For the toasts: Heat an oven to 250 degrees. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, turning occasionally. When done, rub each slice with the cut side of the garlic clove and rub with torn basil leaves. Work carefully since the toasts are brittle. The toasts will pick up a rich green color. Reserve.
  4. For the first course: Bring the bouillabaisse broth in the large, wide pot to a simmer. Cut the potatoes in half and add to the broth. Simmer for 10 minutes. Then add the fish, adding the thickest and firmest ones first. you must use your judgement here; the fish should be firm, just-cooked. Most fish will not take longer than 5-7 minutes in the simmering broth.
  5. When the fish are done, remove them to a platter. Working quickly on a slotted board, fillet the whole fish (a very large spoon works nicely) and divide the fillets evenly among the 6 dinner plates. Reserve the fish bones and heads. Cut up the chunks of fish (monkfish, haddock, etc.) and divide among the plates. Return all juices from the slotted board to the bouillabaisse pot. Place a cooked potato half in the center of each plate, and ladle a few tablespoons of broth around the fish on each plate. Drizzle a teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil over the fish on each plate and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Strew the chopped parsley over the fish and serve immediately.
  6. For the second course: While your guests are eating the first course, bring the pot of broth to a boil. Plunge the lobsters into the broth, cover, and cook for 12 minutes.
  7. Remove lobsters from broth when done and working over a slotted board, cut into 6 half-tail portions, 6 claws, and 6 first joints (the part that connects the claw to the body). While working, slip the shelled shrimp and the scallops into the simmering broth for about 1 minute or until just cooked. Now divide the lobster pieces, the cooked shrimp and the cooked scallops among 6 plates. Place a dollop of aioli on the side of the plate.
  8. Serve immediately, but don't forget to put the remaining pieces of lobster (like the chest and legs), juices from the slotted board, the shrimp shells, and the reserved fish heads and bones from the first course into the bouillabaisse pot. Cover the pot and turn the heat to medium-high.
  9. For the third course: Cook the broth with the shellfish shells and saffron in it over medium-high heat for at least 20 minutes; after 30-40 minutes, it will pick up even more flavor, but it may be difficult to wait that long. When ready to serve, select 6 wide, shallow soup bowls and place two toasts in the center of each. Ladle the bouillabaisse broth around the toasts and top the toasts with a dollop of aioli. Place a small basil leaf on the aioli and scatter the shredded basil over the soup. Serve immediately with additional aioli on the side.

Third course: Soup with Basil Toasts

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  1. Combine all of the above ingredients except the olive oil and process for 30 seconds.
  2. With the motor running slowly add the olive oil drop by drop in the beginning, and then pour the remaining oil in a slow steady stream. The mixture will be thick, but not stiff. Reserve in the refrigerator.