Recipe courtesy of The Fish Counter

British Columbia Bouillabaisse

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 55 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Garlic Oil and Confit Puree:

40 cloves garlic, peeled (from 6 to 8 whole bulbs)

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

Soup Base:

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 head fennel, diced 

5 cloves garlic, minced 

2 red bell peppers, diced 

2 yellow bell peppers, diced 

6 bay leaves 

Pinch saffron threads 

One 50-ounce can diced tomatoes 

50 ounces fish or vegetable stock, optional 

Sea salt


2 pounds assorted seafood, such as clams, mussels, cod, halibut and wild salmon (see Cook's Note), shellfish alive and in their shells and fin fish skinned and cut into large cubes

1 small bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped 

Crusty bread, for serving, optional


  1. For the garlic oil and confit puree: Place the garlic and oil in a small heavy-bottomed saucepot. Place over medium-high heat and bring it up to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and poach slowly until garlic cloves are very soft, about 1 hour.
  2. Strain the garlic out of the oil, reserving the garlic and oil separately.
  3. Place the strained garlic into a food processor and puree until silky smooth, about 1 minute. For a richer, smoother puree, add some garlic oil back in and process to emulsify. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. For the soup base: Preheat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 cup of the reserved garlic oil and sweat, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the fennel and cook, 1 minute more. Add the garlic, red and yellow peppers, bay leaves and saffron, stirring. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the cover and add the diced tomatoes and additional stock if using (if you desire a lighter soup). Bring back to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes, then season to taste.
  5. For the bouillabaisse: Bring the soup base to a boil, then stir in 3 tablespoons of the reserved garlic confit puree and add the clams. Cover and cook until the first clamshell opens, 20 to 30 seconds. Add mussels, then stir the pot, cover and cook 20 more seconds.
  6. When the soup is boiling again and more shellfish are beginning to open, add the remaining cubed fin fish. Stir, cover and cook for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat and let sit for about a minute with out opening the lid.
  7. Adjust the seasoning and warm some soup bowls. Divide the fish evenly among the bowls, then pour over the remaining liquid. Finish with a 1 tablespoon of the garlic confit puree and sprinkle with the freshly chopped parsley. This is great with crusty bread.

Cook’s Note

When choosing seafood, opt for whatever is best, local and seasonal in your part of the country.